Oberlin Conservatory of Music licenses rare jazz photography collection for display at new Akron jazz venue

August 27, 2014 -

Summit County jazz fans are in for a treat this fall as an exciting and rare collection of black & white jazz photography comes to BLU Jazz+, Akron’s up-and-coming jazz club, by way of an exhibit licensing arrangement between Oberlin Conservatory of Music & the venue.


Selected works from the Frank Kuchirchuk Collection of Jazz Photography have been prominently on display in the Kohl Building at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, OH since 2009, when they were donated to the school by the photographer himself.


Frank Kuchirchuk (1924-2010), a U.S. Army Veteran and member of the Press Club of Cleveland, was moonlighting from his day job as an International News Service (INS) photographer in the early 1950’s when he captured his impressive collection of photographs of jazz greats including Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Stan Getz, Lester Young, Anita O’Day and Coleman Hawkins, to name a few. Nearly all of the photos were taken at Lindsay’s Sky Bar, a famous Cleveland nightclub which presented nationally famous jazz artists from the mid-1930’s through the mid-1950’s.


Jeremy Smith, Special Collections Librarian and Curator of several exhibits at Oberlin Conservatory, looks forward to the opportunity to present more of Kuchirchuk’s collection to the public at BLU Jazz+.


“Through his remarkable photography from the 1950s, Frank Kuchirchuk was able to capture a vibrant moment in Cleveland’s jazz history. Oberlin College is now excited to partner with BLU Jazz+ to increase access to this rich collection while helping to introduce it to a new generation of jazz fans in Ohio,” says Smith.


Mike Wyatt II, a professional jazz saxophonist and VP of Talent & Events at BLU Jazz+, first approached Smith in early 2014 with the idea of showcasing Mr. Kuchirchuk’s rare photography collection at BLU Jazz+.


“This is an exciting opportunity for us to present a beautiful piece of jazz history with a very local connection,” says Wyatt. “Mr. Kuchirchuk’s camera techniques and artistic style inadvertently became the benchmark for many other jazz photographers of the era. We are thrilled and fortunate to be able to display his works – many of which have never been seen by the public – in our club for everyone to enjoy,” added Wyatt.


Tony Troppe, Creative Director and Proprietor at BLU Jazz+, echoes the enthusiasm of Smith and Wyatt.


“Our performance venue (and now art gallery) will help set a new standard for embracing the old classics. Coupling this collection of photographs courtesy of Oberlin with music performances and atmosphere to match will only enhance and make the live jazz experience more moving. This edge gives BLU Jazz+ instant national significance and will be inspirational to art & music lovers of all walks,” says Troppe.


BLU Jazz+ is slated to open this fall, kicking off with an exciting series of live music events, presenting the very best in local and national jazz talent.




BLU Jazz+ was named one of the "Best Jazz Venues in the World" by DownBeat Magazine (2016, 2017, 2018)
Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.