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Jazz Masters of Indiana Avenue



The "Jazz Masters of Indiana Avenue," a 19 x 85 foot mural painted by Indianapolis artist Pamela Bliss, will be dedicated 3:00 p.m. Saturday on site at the Musicians' Repair and Sales building, 332 North Capitol.

Created for the "46 for XLVI" public art initiative organized by the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the city to beautify downtown for the Super Bowl, "Jazz Masters" is a "photorealistic" depiction of eight local jazz legends and photographer Duncan Schiedt, who immortalized their images.

Schiedt, Dr. David Baker, and trombonist Slide Hampton, all depicted in the mural, will speak at the event, which will be covered by FOX News.

The mural's musicians, forever young, forever playing together in silent tribute, are rendered in classic, nostalgic monochrome.

"I wanted to capture the 1950s musical heritage of Indiana Avenue, which produced so many great musicians," Bliss said.

So many, that a main challenge was deciding whom to exclude. And it wasn't a matter of drawing straws; Bliss and Musicians' Repair owner Rick Oldham examined stacks of Schiedt's photographs and vetted countless bios before making their final decisions. The "chosen" met three criteria.

"They were born here, raised here. and cut their chops playing on Indiana Avenue," Oldham said, adding that most had also patronized the family business, first begun by his father in 1948.

Besides researching, Oldham spent $7000.00 to prepare the wall for painting. "We needed to make sure everything was in good shape so that once the mural was done, it would last," he said.

Immediately after, Bliss, who also did the 38-foot Kurt Vonnegut mural on Mass Ave for the same initiative, applied paint.

"I had to get it done before cold weather set in," she said, which meant starting without all the photo images she needed, and without first practicing on canvas. "The design changed at least ten times," she said.

The musicians from left to right are: David Young, Jimmy Coe, Baker, J. J. Johnson, Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Larry Ridley, and Wes Montgomery.

The Starr-Gennett Foundation will grant each musician, or his survivors, a special recognition award for helping to keep Indiana's jazz heritage alive.

After awards, the IPS Jazz All-Star Band and Oldham's own 16-piece Serenade Jazz Orchestra will perform. Later, the Jazz Kitchen will celebrate to music provided by a fitting multi-generational line up of all-stars: Marlin McKay, Zach Lapidus, Rob Dixon, Frank Smith, and living legend Hampton.


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