JAZZ IN THE ALLEY

Museum of Public Art

“Portrait of a Chicago Community 1966-1976”

The photographs in this exhibit document an event spanning over ten years, in one place, an alley on the south side of Chicago.

Every Sunday the alley between St.Lawrence and Champlain hosted a battle....a Jazz battle, in Pop's garage. DJs dueled to the sounds of Jimmy Smith, Lester Young, and Gene Ammons while people young and old grooved to the vibe that made everyone feel as one. 

I was introduced to “The Alley” by Jimmy Ellis who hosted a live jam session in the garage once a month. Jimmy also introduced me to photography.  This exhibit showcases some of the many photos that Jimmy and I took at the “Sunday Afternoon Jazz Set” as it was formally known.

This project is dedicated to all who have come and gone and contributed to the beauty every Sunday afternoon. 

                                                                            Kevin Harris

The man in the next series of photos is The Sandman, who was responsible for keeping the community together.  If Jesus came back to earth, he would look and act something like Daniel The Sandman.  He cleaned the community daily, picking up trash as fast as they could throw it down. With his pushcart, broom and shovel, always in a cut off t-shirt and shorts, The Sandman was a powerful force. He always wore the same t-shirt and shorts even in winter. He was a volunteer army of one. Sometimes on Saturday he would have brooms for the kids and they would follow him cleaning the street like the pied piper. He got the name “Sandman” from his stage act years before at the Club Rhum Boogie where he sang and danced in an electrified sand box, while holding five tables and chairs stacked on top of each other, in his mouth.

He also made crowns from old jewelry that he would find in the street. You could see him wearing one of his many crowns when he was invited to sing in the garage during a live set. And could he sing....

Credits: Story

Photo credit — Jimmy Ellis Chicago, Illinois
Kevin Harris Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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