September 30, 2006

Los Angeles --- Made possible through a generous donation by the family of French aeronautics engineer Pierre Atlan, a stunningly accurate, miniature model of 1915 New Orleans is currently undergoing detailed restoration as part of its planned gift to the City of New Orleans, in early ‘2007.

Created during the years spanning 1956 to 1980, the completion of the 1:87 scale model was a realization of Atlan’s and long-time friend Pierre Merlin’s dream to honor the city known for its role as the birthplace of American jazz. As deeply devoted fans, as well as gifted designers, Atlan and Merlin have constructed their model to such detail that even the water used in recreating the city’s shipping docks had previously been transported to Paris directly from the Mississippi itself.

“As a representative of the Center for Jazz Arts, I was honored to receive an invitation to preview the French Government’s planned gift to New Orleans,” stated Center for Jazz Arts president and chairman Guy DeFazio. “The commitment of the French engineers and musicians who meticulously brought the model to life, over the course of nearly twenty-five years, and the level of detail embodied in its extraordinary, 1915 rendering of the city, is an outstanding example of the rich embrace of jazz music and culture throughout France, and the continuing role of the French people in helping us all to better understand its importance as a unifying catalyst around the world.”

A close friend and colleague of Atlan’s since the early 1950s, Pierre Merlin was an accomplished architect, painter, engraver, and designer who received his formal training at leading, fine arts institutes in both Paris and Bordeaux. With a background that included the design of cover art for French record labels such as Vogue and Swing, as well as a musical career as a featured cornetist in the Dixieland-style orchestra of legendary, French musician Claude Luter, Merlin’s care and attention to detail in the production of the New Orleans model can be seen throughout its design.

In addition to Pierre Atlan’s long career in aeronautic engineering, including a central role in the development of the Mercure aircraft, for Dassault, his love of music had also, simultaneously enabled him to become a highly talented clarinetist, eventually leading to his founding of one of the oldest, continuously active jazz orchestras in France today (the “High Society Jazz Band”).

Most importantly, the friendship of Pierre Atlan (1928-1988) and Pierre Merlin (1918-2000), and their shared passion for the fields of both music and design, has now made possible what will soon become a truly remarkable gift to the people of New Orleans, and indeed the world.

About the CJA:

Established in 2004, the Center for Jazz Arts is an international institution devoted to the study and advancement of American jazz culture throughout the visual, literary, and classical arts, around the world. Through its primary operations in Los Angeles, it is building a prominent new platform of engagement for students, artists, educators, and the broader public, from every generation.

To contact the CJA:

Public Relations
Center for Jazz Arts
(866) 950-5200

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