CELORON - American Legion Herman Kent Post 777 and AMVETS Aaron Swanson Post 777 will host an anniversary celebration with all the fixings.
During the evening of Sunday, Oct. 14, guests of the anniversary celebration will enjoy a prime rib dinner and ballroom dancing with music provided by a big band formed by JCC adjunct music teacher Ralph Rasmusson, a retired Falconer music teacher, and member of Razz and Friends.
According to Brad Zimmer, party chairman, the American Legion Herman Kent Post 777 was established in 1920, making this celebration the 92nd anniversary.
Ralph Rasmusson, a retired Falconer music teacher, also known as “Razz” of Razz and Friends, is shown practicing with a big band at JCC in preparation for the upcoming American Legion and AMVETS anniversary celebration.
P-J photos by Dusten Rader
"The event is open to any of the members of the American Legion, Amvets and VFWs, and you're welcome to bring guests,"said Zimmer. "We did this on a Friday before, and got so many reservations that we couldn't take anymore. So, we thought for our anniversary we couldn't do anything better than to bring Razz back. We had such a good time last time that I'm sure we're in for another great evening."
The Razz and Friends big band performance will begin with a prime rib dinner buffet from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14., followed by ballroom dancing from 7 to 10 p.m.
"I use my quintet, Razz and Friends, as the center of the band," said Rasmusson. "Because it's a ballroom we'll have waltz, tango, cha cha, swing slow ballad and big band vocals from Barbara Jean. Some of the songs we'll play are 'Moon River,' 'Take the 'A' Train,' 'Tuxedo Junction,' 'Never On Sunday,' and 'Sunny Side of the Street.' We'll have a couple Beatles tunes too - they will get variety."
In addition to Rasmusson, who is a member of the Chautauqua County Music Hall of Fame, the group is backed by another music hall of famer: Jamestown's traditional pop and jazz songwriter and crooner Barbara Jean. It also features drummer Bill Winchester, pianist Frank Farina and bassist Lloyd Howard.
"We did it last fall and the place sold out, so we knew we had to do it again for the people who didn't get to experience it last time," said Barbara Jean. "It will be like the old days at a nightclub."
The band includes several JCC students as well as members of the community such as a physician, CPA, Resource Center officer, counselor and a law officer. These people put the "community" into the Jamestown Community College music department, Rasmusson said.
JCC guitar major of the recording program Jeff Picarazzi, a freshman from Albany, is one of the students who is looking forward to the opportunity to play with experienced musicians. JCC business student and trumpeter Chad Muscarella is also enjoying the opportunity.
"I enjoy it because it's not everyday that you get to play for people that are ballroom dancing," said Muscarella. "It's a load of fun playing with Razz, and he is a good guy."
"I'm so glad that I met Razz here at JCC and that he gave me the opportunity to play with his band," said JCC music education student and trumpeter Matthew Lefford. "It's so much fun, and I'm looking forward to the show because it's going to be a great experience."
According to Rasmusson, this event and others have all happened with the full support of Mike Kelley chairman of the JCC music department.
"We have a great program going here that offers direct transfers to Mercyhurst, SUNY Fredonia and Edinboro," said Rasmusson.
The post is located at 26 Jackson Ave. in Celoron. For more information call 483-0777 or visit americanlegionpost777.com.