Narvin’s Party, 2008

Prospect.1, New Orleans, USA

Misspelled as “Navin” when searched on the Internet, the late “Narvin” Kimball is the Navin Party’s grandfather and a legend of New Orleans Jazz. Born in New Orleans in 1909, Kimball lived his life a consummate professional, taking pride in everything he did. Although his mother set him on course to become doctor, in the roaring 20s playing music paid well, so he dropped out of school to join his father Henry Kimball, a well respected jazz bassist. Trained initially on the piano, his parents recognised his interest in the four-string sound and arranged for him to take formal banjo lessons. Kimball was a founding member of the famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band where for 40 more years he would woo audiences with his virtuoso solo and rhythm banjo.

 

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2006, Narvin Kimball passed away at his daughter’s home in South Carolina. Though his body was taken to be buried in New Orleans, those were still very difficult times, and his funeral, described by Preservation Hall director Ben Jaffe as the saddest ever, was nowhere near as deserving for such a great figure.

 

On occasion of the inauguration of Prospect.1 New Orleans biennial of contemporary art, the Navin Party took pride in the opportunity to join with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc., and the Organisers of Prospect.1, in celebrating the life of Narvin Kimball with a traditional Jazz Funeral fitting to the man.

 

Hosted on November 1, 2008 as part of the Prospect.1’s opening programme, the Narvin’s Party procession began with a march from the Jazz and Heritage Center, a former funeral home that was transformed into one of the exhibition venues. With music by respected fellow musicians from The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the jazz funeral’s attendants included Mr. Kimball’s family, friends, local Jazz lovers, as well as exhibition visitors. Throughout the procession participants carried the six Navin Production Narvin’s Party paintings, which were created in memory of Narvin Kimball. Lead by Mr. Kimball’s daughter, Barbara Kimball, who walked arm in arm with Navin Party’s Chairman, the parade passed through the city center before arriving at the Preservation Hall. Speeches by Barbara and Ben Jaffe were given to the public along with notes from Navin Party members who delivered the paintings to collaborating organisations and Mr. Kimball’s family. While one painting is given to Barbara, another was delivered to Mr. Kimball’s wife who could not attend the ceremony. One painting is permanently installed at the entrance of the Preservation Hall, and one is included in the collection of the Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation.

 

The project’s video documentation and paintings were shown throughout the exhibition period at The Jazz Heritage Center where the parade began. An outdoor billboard reproduced from one of the paintings was also presented in the city of New Orleans.

 

 


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