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Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra remembers talented drummer, killed in hit-and-run

Posted at 7:04 PM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 19:04:16-04

INDIANAPOLIS — With the beat of a drum, 48-year-old Frank Saywer was the heartbeat of the Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra.

"And that's what he was. That was his role. He was the heartbeat and when he started playing, he was very chill but boy he was in the zone once he started playing," Rick Vale said.

Singer, and Artistic Director, Rick Vale shared the stage with Sawyer for at least a decade.

He says Sawyer's passion was always felt.

"He loved performing. He loved making people happy. He was gifted at it," Vale said. "He was one of the finest drummers I ever worked with. He just loved his parents and he was proud when they were there."

Those performances are now cherished memories.

Sunday, Sawyer was walking on the city's east side before metro police say he was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

"It's just kind of numbing. Now, it's hard to believe it's really true," Vale said.

His passing marked the 21st deadly hit and run across Indianapolis.

It's the highest since 2011.

"He is, as we all come, a statistic, but this was a magnificent life," Vale said.

Friends and family don't want Sawyer to be remembered as the man who broke a tragic statistic.

They want him to be remembered as a talented drummer with a big heart.

"Frank was a very unassuming, very calm, steady, very friendly, always smiling," Vale said.

While his presence on stage will never be fulfilled, his legacy will live on.