The Miles Davis Memorial Committee will unveil a sculpture of world-renowned jazz musician, Miles Davis, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, on West Third Street in downtown Alton. Festivities will begin at 5 p.m.
ALTON — Volunteers are in full swing with their effort to recognize one of music’s most noted trumpeters.
On March 22, the Miles Davis Memorial Project, a group of individuals who joined together to honor the world-renowned jazz musician born in Alton, held a fund-raiser in support of placing a statue in his honor on West Third Street.
The Kind of Blue dinner and auction raised about $18,000 for the life-size bronze piece planned for the heart of Alton’s historic entertainment district.
“This statue will be the third one built in the world, yet it will be the first one in the United States,” project member Derrick Richardson said.
The other two statues are in France and Poland.
Richardson said Davis is considered the greatest trumpeter of all time and his connection to Alton should be celebrated. He credits Patricia Ackman with starting the project.
“She’s worked hard to make this a reality,” he said.
Ackman doesn’t want to take all the credit. She said she is just one of more than a dozen individuals involved with the project who believe Alton should have a life-size statue of the musical great.
"It's not just me, but a whole group of people helping to jazz up the city with the legacy of Miles Davis," she said.
She said Davis is regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in musical history “and we want to memorialize and celebrate his role.”
Miles Dewey Davis was born in Alton in 1926 in a house at 1112 Milnor St. His family moved to East St. Louis in 1927. Davis is credited with starting the cool jazz movement.
Davis’ album "Kind of Blue," released in 1959, is considered one of the best jazz albums. The trumpeter died in 1991 in San Diego and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Ackman said she believes the statue will attract visitors to the city.
The goal was to have the statue in place by May — in time for Alton’s annual Jazz Festival and Davis’ birthday — but the group still is working on getting much of the needed funding, so the unveiling is being pushed back.
Ackman said they hope to have the statue in place by the end of the year. The piece is commissioned by Chicago artist Preston Jackson. The statue will resemble the U.S. postage stamp in which Davis is tilted backward in a white, sleeveless shirt, trumpet in hand.
The group has also joined forces with local businesses for a fund-raising campaign. Customers at participating downtown Alton businesses can donate $5 and will have their name placed on a "trumpet." Businesses are encouraged to hand the trumpets on the walls to highlight supporters.
The campaign will run through Easter and its organizers hope to raise $5,000. Participating businesses include Chez Marilyn, Catdaddy's, Ragin' Cajun, Mac's Time Out Lounge, Don & Penny's, Big Muddy Pub, Bossanova and Tony's Prohibition Lounge.
For information about the Miles Davis Memorial Project, like them on Facebook, visit the website www.prideincorporated.org or call Pride Inc. at (618) 463-2375. Donations can be made to the Miles Davis Memorial Project care of Pride Inc., Alden Hall, 5800 Godfrey Road, Godfrey, IL 62035.