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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Event to jazz up Landing Park

  • The third annual Jazz by the River in Leavenworth is promising to be about more than music.


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  • The third annual Jazz by the River in Leavenworth is promising to be about more than music.
    The doors at the event, a benefit for the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth, will open at 5 p.m. Saturday at Leavenworth Landing Park. After some opening remarks, performances by several jazz acts like saxophonist Melvin Lister Jr. and vocalist J9 will begin at 6 p.m. and last throughout the evening until 10 p.m. There will also be food and other vendors in the park and activities like a face-painting booth and games for children.
    But some of the event’s organizers said there will be an extra reason to celebrate as those attending will be a part of a celebration of this year’s theme, “Coming Together.”
    Laura Coaxum said she and her husband Ron, a local musician, asked Phyllis Bass, the executive director of the Richard Allen Cultural Center, what they could do to help with Jazz by the River this year.
    She said Bass asked that instead of Ron just performing this year, the two take a leadership role in the event. So Laura said they proposed to the center’s board of directors that Ron’s company, Music n Audio Services, produce the show free of charge and worked with the board on other details.
    As for the show’s theme, “Coming Together,” Laura said the decision was made to open up and expand what had previously been a separate cookout for several area community service organizations to all of those in Lansing, Leavenworth and the fort and combine it with the Jazz by the River event.
    There are a lot of active service organizations in the area, and Laura said their members are often behind the scenes, coordinating efforts like food drives and raising funds for scholarships to give to local students or schools.
    “The vision for this was to recognize all of those efforts,” she said. “Of all of those community service organizations in Leavenworth, Lansing and Fort Leavenworth.”
    Laura said the volunteers with area fraternities and sororities like the Omicron Iota Iota chapter of Omega Psi Phi on the fort and Delta Sigma Theta in Leavenworth and civic clubs like the Leavenworth Lions Club, the Socialites and Les Novelettes can have a profound effect on the quality of life in the area.
    Leavenworth Mayor Larry Dedeke, Lansing Mayor Ken Bernard and Fort Leavenworth Garrison Commander Col. Wayne Green are all scheduled to be at the event to commend the organizations in their work toward that goal. Between every musical act, she said acknowledgments and awards will be handed out by each of those dignitaries.
    Bass said volunteers play a big part in one of the Richard Allen center’s programs as well. Students from the Command and General Staff College on the fort are a big help, mentoring area students in the center’s after-school program.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We have actually changed the lives of kids,” and the Jazz on the River helps continue that work, she said.

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