ALTON − Memories of jazz roll down the banks of the Mississippi River, making Downtown a perfect fit for a statue honoring a musical master.
Miles Davis was born in Alton and went on to become a renowned recording artist.
Patricia Ackman and Karen Wilson are co-chairs of the project and both women think it would be a boost to Downtown Alton near Lauschke’s and Chez Marilyn’s and just one more attraction for visitors.
“We are kind of a city of monuments anyway: Robert Wadlow, Lincoln-Douglas debate, Lovejoy; Miles Davis brings another type of legend to our area,” Wilson said. “It is also important in placing this Mississippi River town as part of the jazz legacy starting here and flowing down to St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.”
“We have accumulated about $20,000 in donations,” Ackman said. “Some don’t know how important Miles Davis was for music.”
From 6-10 p.m. Saturday, March 22, Pete and Judy Basola will tell the public about Davis at the Miles Davis Memorial Project Kind of Blue Dinner and Auction at the Commons at Lewis and Clark Community College. Pete Basola is a jazz musician and expert on the genre.
Davis was inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2008, his 1959 album “Kind of Blue” received a fourth platinum certification.
Pete Basola said the project will promote the arts and economic development in Downtown Alton.
“It is important to honor those who have played a part in the rich history of the region,” Basola said. “Visitors are drawn every year to take in the various elements of Alton’s history. This statue will add another chapter to that history.”
Ackman said there are statues of Davis in Poland and France, but none in the Western Hemisphere. Four-by-eight bricks are being sold to help raise funds for the statue. A total of $150,000 is needed to complete the project, Ackman said. The cost of a 4-by-8 brick is $75 and a 12-by-12 brick is $400.
“Miles Davis is the Picasso in the jazz world, like Louis Armstrong,” she added. “He took jazz in different directions, and that is what made him iconic.”
The original Miles Davis home still exists on Milnor in Alton, Ackman said.
“His family left here when he was about a year old to move to East St. Louis,” she added. “His father opened a dental office and drugstore there.”
Tickets are on sale for the Miles Davis Memorial Project Dinner and Auction by calling (618) 467-2375 by March 9. A table of eight that night is $450. There are several other sponsorship levels from $500, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 that include granite blocks. Individual tickets are $60 for that evening.
The evening on March 20 at the Commons will begin with jazz by Third Coast Jazz and Blues. A silent auction and live auction will follow with music and jazz education.
Online registration and donations are available at www.prideincorporated.org.