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Jazz fans plot ways to spend eternity with greats

Thursday, July 10, 2014 | 8:06 p.m. CDT
Jazz great Duke Ellington's headstone rests at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx section of New York. So many jazz enthusiasts want to be buried near the graves of such greats as Miles Davis and Ellington that the New York City cemetery is developing land to meet the demand.

NEW YORK — Some jazz fans are devoted to the very end.

At The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, so many jazz enthusiasts want to be buried near the graves of such greats as Miles Davis and Duke Ellington that the cemetery is developing new plots to meet the demand.

The cemetery is building about 2,275 new burial plots between the grave of Latin music star Celia Cruz and "Jazz Corner," the area where musicians Davis, Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Illinois Jacquet are buried.

"With the history of the Bronx and everybody that is planning ahead, we have a lot of requests to be close to Miles Davis and Celia Cruz," said cemetery executive director David Ison.

Pauline Smith, 74, bought a burial plot near Jazz Corner about three years ago. She is an avid jazz lover and throws regular parties where she hires jazz musicians to play at her home in New Rochelle.

"The music is in the earth and in the air and in the heavens," she said. "I love the idea that I could be continuing my love on the other side."

Earlier this year, the cemetery opened up 70 burial plots behind Davis' grave in Jazz Corner, separate from the new development, and almost all of them have already been sold.

The complex also includes a mausoleum finished in February with space for about 275 sets of remains and a starting price of $6,000 per plot. Four smaller buildings planned for the site do not have an estimated completion date.

The 400-acre cemetery, at about half the size of Central Park, is also the final resting place of such notables as journalist Joseph Pulitzer, women's rights pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton and composer Irving Berlin.


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