Treasured Kansas City Jazz Artifact Going On Display In New Exhibit At Walk Disney World® Resort

For Immediate Release 

February 4, 2021

CONTACT:

Lisa Alpert, American Jazz Museum: lalpert@kcjazz.org

Morgan Said, Kansas City Mayor's Office: morgan.said@kcmo.org

 
send_the_sax_press_release_graphic.png
 

Charlie "Bird" Parker's Grafton saxophone, one of Kansas City's most treasured jazz artifacts, will embark on a journey to Lake Buena Vista, Florida today for an extended stay at EPCOT® Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort. On Monday, Walt Disney Imagineering unveiled “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure,” a salute to cities across America that had a major impact on jazz music: Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, and San Juan. And the American Jazz Museum and Mayor Lucas recently offered the crown jewel from the museum's collection to be added to the exhibit.

“Walt Disney Imagineering is thrilled to add Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone to ‘The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure’ exhibit. This significant artifact extends the compelling history of jazz that we are sharing in the exhibit, and we hope it will inspire our guests to discover even more about this truly American art form.” – Carmen Smith, Executive, Creative Development & Inclusion Strategies, Walt Disney Imagineering

Each year, visitors from all over the world come to the American Jazz Museum at 18th & Vine for a chance to view the plastic Grafton saxophone played by Parker in May 1953 at what some refer to as "the greatest jazz concert ever" at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada. The saxophone was purchased in 1994 in a London auction by the 18th & Vine Authority and the city's mayor at the time, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II to honor the rich history of Kansas City jazz and to serve as a beacon attraction and anchor for the district. 

This addition to the exhibit puts a national spotlight on Kansas City and is a huge opportunity for the American Jazz Museum at a critical time. Despite many public challenges throughout the museum's history, a refreshed board and new staff leadership have ushered in a new era of growth and transformation, after just one year with new Executive Director Rashida Phillips at the helm.  

"While we’ll miss the horn on display here for a little while, we know that the mission of the music is greater than us. Parker’s talent and the pure beauty and uniqueness of this instrument will see more public and garner the attention Kansas City deserves for its mark on jazz," said Phillips. 

“The key theme of this film is all about embracing the opportunity of a lifetime while there’s still time left, and to never stop chasing your dreams. This message has struck a chord for many of us at AJM, and that's exactly how we all feel. My team has been working tirelessly through this pandemic to come out bigger and bolder, and this moment is only the beginning. Kansas City is the home of jazz, and I'm so grateful to Mayor Lucas for championing its role in the identity of our town. It means the world to us that he would go out of his way during Super Bowl weekend to travel down to Orlando with us and honor the installation of Charlie's saxophone at EPCOT." 

In addition to “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure,” Walt Disney World Resort is unveiling several new experiences throughout February inviting everyone to celebrate soulfully at The Most Magical Place on Earth. Coinciding with and extending beyond Black History Month, these offerings honor Black heritage and culture through music, food, art and more. The Grafton saxophone is scheduled to remain at EPCOT for six months. 

Be sure to follow the American Jazz Museum and Mayor Quinton Lucas on social media for updates and news related to this exhibition.

About the American Jazz Museum
The mission of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through performance, exhibition, education, and research at one of the country’s jazz crossroads – 18th & Vine. As the only museum in the world solely focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz music, the American Jazz Museum is dedicated to public service and collaborative efforts to expand the influence, awareness and appreciation of jazz among the widest demographic of people across the Kansas City region, as well as among those based in various locations worldwide. For a complete list of upcoming programs and performances, visit www.americanjazzmuseum.org