Not for Profit: Jazz in the Park

Trumpeter Eddie Russell, who organizes the Jazz in the Park concerts.The Jazz in the Park series, which features local musicians playing the last Friday of every month, have caught on. From their be3ginning in April the concerts now draw crowds as large as 300 strong to the National Park Service grounds next to Fort Christiansvaern, , according to organizers.

Well-known local band leader and musician Eddie Russell is on a mission to bring the community together by providing live jazz programs to the public.

“I have the desire to contribute something of worth,” said Russell, organizer of Jazz in the Park and a retired teacher. “My mission is to bring the community together through music.”

He said Jazz in the Park is a social benefit to the community, bringing friends and families together to enjoy music, relax and socialize in a safe environment. The attendees bring snacks, folding chairs and blankets and sit together on the manicured lawn.

The performances are from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the fort parking lot is open until 8p.m.

Crowd gathers on the Park Service lawn in Christiansted for a recent Jazz in the Park concert. (Photo provided by Gayle Vanasse)My purpose is to give enjoyment and happiness in a meaningful contribution of music,” Russell said.

Russell identifies and selects monthly guest artists from local performers he knows and that he feels will compliment the genre. He said they are a core group of musicians who support the arts.

Some of the artists are saxophonist Dr. Olaf “Bronco” Hendricks, drummer Larry Bough and singer Dean Hodge.

The guest artists scheduled for this Friday will be Malcolm Evans, a vocalist with a range of music from spiritual to night club jazz and flautist Diane Russell, playing jazz and classical.

The Community Music Band, made up of local musicians, provides backup. They are Russell, Frederick William, Lennox Joseph and Leslie Mathias.

Musicians play in the gazebo. (Photo provided by Gayle Vanasse)Russell said Frederiksted Jazz is great, but Jazz in the Park fills a certain void in the community. He said so far the support from the community has been good.

The shows are close for the folks who live on the East end and shows start early and end early.

Russell said they at looking at a bigger project, trying to organize a Community Music Center.

It could provide a venue for events related to music and be a setting for music instruction for everyone. Russell said the center will offer a service and get locals attracted to the arts.

With these ambitious goals in mind, Russell said Community Music Inc. is getting to the stage where they need support from sponsors and are organizing a fund drive. Russell added they have done the paperwork to get non- profit status.

More information can be obtained and donations made by calling Russell at 1-340-277-3914.

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