Description of the Collection

The John Snyder archive consists of over 600 linear feet of music production archives and related material spanning a career in music that began in the mid-1960’s to the present. The inventory is generally in very good or better condition with above average sound and visual quality.  

The media types represented includes hundreds of physical binders, dozens of file drawers of documents, sheet music, books, hundreds of analog recordings (from cassette and quarter inch to two-inch multitrack tape) and hundreds of digital recordings (U-matic tapes, multitrack, reel-to-reel, Dats and A-dats), and hundreds of video recordings on various formats (VHS, Hi 8, DVC, mini-DV, and Beta).

The 90-minute DVD and YouTube videos created and narrated by John Snyder provide an extensive visual review of the scope and content of the entire collection.

The collection contains the following components:

  • There is also a substantial file relating to Chet Baker circa 1975-1981 (The Comeback Years). The file contains material relating to Baker’s recovery from the Methadone Program he entered to recover from drug addiction, correspondence relating to issues with his drug recovery and ability to perform, work contracts and agreements and a substantial quantity of original and unpublished correspondence between Chet Baker, his mother Vera Baker, wife Carol Baker, girlfriend Ruth Young and manager John Snyder.
  • John Snyder’s 35-year relationship with Ornette Coleman, focused specifically on the year 1978 to 1983, is well documented in the collection, including over 50 hours of recorded conversations with Ornette Coleman and John Snyder on cassette, multiple project files and notebooks, and multiple analog, 10”, quarter- inch tapes of Mr. Coleman’s rehearsals, and several Mr. Coleman’s instruments.
  • The number of musicians, artists, and arrangers involved in the new recordings and re-issues produced by John Snyder numbers in the thousands including some of the most prominent musicians, bands, and artists of the 20th century.  Although focus is on jazz and blues, the number of other artists with whom he had first hand contact is a virtual who’s who of 20th century popular music.
  • An inventory of approximately 7,000 audio/visual media tapes in various formats including reel to reel tapes, cassette tapes, digital tapes, video cassettes, DVD’s, DVC’s and other miscellaneous formats. These tapes include unproduced sessions and record dates, live performances, performance documentaries, TV performances, interviews and various spontaneous filming of events relating to the sessions and performances. Much of the material has never been produced commercially.
  • An inventory of approximately 2000 of John Snyder’s commercially produced recordings including LPs, Cassettes, and CD’s representing over 400 titles, approximately 200 of which have multiple quantities of duplication.
  • An inventory of over 8000 commercially produced DVD’s of 10 Jazz Master Class Recordings produced in conjunction with NYU with artists including Cecil Taylor, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Hank Jones, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Barry Harris, and Phil Woods.
  • A collection of approximately 8,000 original photographs relating to the recordings John Snyder’s career in music including, but not restricted to, rehearsals and recording sessions, live performances, musicians and recording crews, and other professional friendships.
  • A collection of over 12,000 LPs, including 8000 jazz LPs, 2000 classical LPs, and 2000 popular music and world music LPs, covering recorded music until 2000 or so. A collection of over 8000 jazz, classical, blues, and rock CDs.
  • A collection of approximately 170 signed baseballs memorializing recording sessions inscribed by all of the artists who played on the session.
  • A collection of hundreds of video taped interviews with over 500 music industry professionals, including artists, lawyers, publishers, PR people, etc.
  • Miscellaneous memorabilia including signed photographs and instruments from Ornette Coleman, Chet Baker, Don Cherry, James Cotton, Sugar Blue, Junior Wells, The Allman Brothers, Etta James, Gerry Mulligan, and the Derek Trucks Band, among others.


The John Snyder Archive is uniquely comprehensive and broad for a certain time in the history of recorded jazz and blues, 1974-2018.  Given John Snyder’s involvement in the music industry and education, the Archive also includes hundreds if not thousands of hours of interview footage with prominent industry professionals.  

All of the materials included in the Archive and its multiple collections exist in the context of a life in music that included crossing paths with many of the most promient artists and industry professionals over a 45 year span.  Thre is a Walter Middy quality to the life of John Snyder in music, mostly in jazz and blues, but also in R&B, Classical, and “traditional pop”.

That John Snyder is alive and well and can work with an acquiring institution to explain and discuss the collection creates opportunities for adding to and contextualizing the archive through seminars and lectures, videos and podcasts.