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Jazz Duets

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“Jazz Duets” by African American sculptor Omar Shaheed depicts a male saxophone player back-to-back with a singing woman. “Jazz Duets” pays homage to the great influence of jazz music and its importance to Black culture as well as referencing the Jazz Era in Columbus. Though many associate the Jazz Era... Read more

“Jazz Duets” by African American sculptor Omar Shaheed depicts a male saxophone player back-to-back with a singing woman. “Jazz Duets” pays homage to the great influence of jazz music and its importance to Black culture as well as referencing the Jazz Era in Columbus. Though many associate the Jazz Era with its origins in New Orleans or major cities where it flourished such as New York and Chicago, Ohio was also influential in the development of Jazz music. Many artists would stop through Ohio on their way to play in other parts of the country. Jazz musicians such as trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, instrumentalist Roland T. “Rahsaan Roland” Kirk and bandleader and singer Ted Lewis all have ties to the Jazz scene in Ohio. Tenor and alto saxophonist Royal G. “Rusty” Bryant and keyboardist Hank Marr were celebrated specifically in Columbus because of their regional connection having grown up in the area. Jazz music was based on Southern African American musical practice of singing away one's sorrows but was soon co-opted by white musicians and white audiences. While this sometimes allowed for social mobility of African American musicians, the popularity of these performers within predominantly white spaces brought about many racial conflicts. Despite these challenges, Jazz lives on as a celebration of African American pride and culture.

Artist Omar Shaheed is a Columbus native who works primarily in stone and bronze. As he explains, “When you carve different stones, it generates a rhythm — music. It’s like you’re dancing with the stone, and you and the stone become one,” bringing even more life to his piece, “Jazz Duets.” Shaheed’s abstract sculptures often reflect the life of African Americans with themes such as family, love, musical influence and the “ghetto.” Shaheed has expressed that he began his career as an artist by using his work as a means to leave behind his early struggles with poverty and today his large scale work can be seen internationally across the US, in Negril, Jamaica, and in the west African nation of Burkina Faso. Each piece vibrates with pride, comfort and awareness to the Black experience and expands upon the themes of love and community.

Feel the music and visit “Jazz Duets” across Long Street from the Lincoln Theatre.

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740 E Long St
Columbus, Ohio 43203
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