The city of Rotterdam is known for its art and music—it’s home to Codarts, one of the largest art schools in the Netherlands. Many artists have studied and lived in Rotterdam at some point, and the city has made many efforts to honor their legacies. But in 2008, during the funeral of percussionist Tony Viola, it was realized that Rotterdam’s contributions to jazz music weren’t getting enough appreciation. And so the Rotterdam Jazz Artists Memorial was born.
The memorial is located on the Oude Binnenweg, one of the few pre-war streets that still remains in Rotterdam. The street was once home to Mephisto, the city’s legendary jazz hall. Cartoonists and illustrators created a series of portraits of jazz musicians that had their roots in Rotterdam. These portraits are placed on properties along the street, bringing life and history to it.
The first set of portraits were revealed in 2014, and included Tony Viola (whose funeral kicked off the project), the saxophonist Piet le Blanc, the pianist Rob Franken, and others. More portraits were added in following years, and the route now contains portraits of 13 artists. In honor of this project, a vinyl album has been brought out that contains music by all the artists included in the memorial.