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An afternoon of jazz

Frank Russell (left) Tim McNamarboth Chicago play tunes for crowd during Greater Gary American Jazz Association's 25th annual Jazz Park

Frank Russell (left) and Tim McNamara, both of Chicago, play tunes for the crowd during the Greater Gary American Jazz Association's 25th annual Jazz in the Park concert in Gary. | Jeff Addison-For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 23, 2012 1:19PM



Gateway Park along 4th Avenue and Broadway served as the backdrop for a musical Sunday afternoon with the 25th annual Jazz in the Park on Aug. 12.

Jazz in the Park is sponsored by the Greater Gary American Jazz Association.

With the Adam Benjamin Metro Center, U.S. Steel, City Hall and other downtown staples providing the backdrop, music lovers found perfect spots for folding chairs, blankets and picnic baskets near the park’s concrete stage.

The weather was perfectly sunny and cool as live performances from Midnight Crisis, the Frank Russell Band and the Tommy Sanders Quartet kept the music flowing all afternoon into the night.

“This is our third year having the concert at Gateway,” said Bennie Hargrove, who is an association member and the public relations officer. “Each act got a two-hour time span with breaks between sets.”

Yolanda “Yo!” Evans of Gary sat in a cushioned chair enjoying snacks as she, her pet Chihuahua Lulu and Lulu’s puppies napped in a dog bed.

“Lulu loves music like I do,” Evans said. “This is my first time attending Jazz in the Park and it is beautiful.”

Those who did not bring their own food supported local vendors who prepared and sold corn on the cob, barbecued rib tips, chicken wings, pop and snacks.

Prior to playing the drums with his quartet, Tommy Sanders of Gary helped sell rib tips, chicken wings and fries at Candy’s BBQ.

“This is an awesome day for jazz music,” he said.

A few of the founding members of the Greater Gary American Jazz Association enjoyed the concert. Mona Taylor of Gary was the association’s first president. She is also the former owner of Mona’s Lounge at 15th Avenue and Broadway.

“The founding members were Ira Bibbs, Howard Patterson, John Darden and Connie Pace,” she said. “They got together and created the Greater Gary American Jazz Association. Over time they recruited more members and also got local musicians involved to support the group. This was during a time when the city was starting to change dramatically.

“It is great that the festival is still going strong after all of these years. But we need the association and the concert to stay strong to preserve our rich history in jazz music.”



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