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South LA residents enjoy Jazz at St. Andrews Park

Howard Hewitt

St. Andrews Park in Southwest LA was packed with over a thousand jazz lovers on Sunday, July 2 for the free community Jazz Festival organized by the Empowerment Congress Southwest Neighborhood Council, Council Member Marqueece Harris-Dawson and the City.

A “packed park” was the vision of the newly elected Southwest Neighborhood Council who were seated right as last year’s festival took place. They quickly took stock of last year’s event and worked for a year to build on the momentum. The planning team put together a top notch musical line up and conducted outreach on their website SouthwestNC.org, eblasts, Facebook, Eventbrite, phone calling and knocking on doors of the community surrounding the park. Build it and they will come, and so they did. Families and people of all races and walks of life came together to rally behind the music.

Jazz Festival Chair and Southwest Neighborhood Council Secretary Dr. Turner Roberts was thrilled, “It was absolutely amazing how the community responded in the spirit that went forth: love and unity. Not one incident occurred against love and unity. The community came together as one and appreciated the entertainment that was provided.”

The event ran from 11am-5pm beginning with the Michael Session Sextet, a perennial favorite, true jazz musicians. They were followed by Dr. Elliott Caine, the jazz optometrist known across LA for his trumpet playing. Next up were the smooth sounds of Donald Hayes blending R&B and soul on the sax. José Rizo brought us “Jazz on the Latin Side”. Howard Hewett of Shalamar fame stole the show. Favorite Barbara Morrison closed out the wonderful afternoon. The event was adeptly MCed by James Janisse, LA’s original “Gentleman of Jazz”, and former host for the Cal State University Long Beach Jazz Station.

Local vendors offered their wares: Ne-Ne’s Collectibles, John Street Jewelry, Neecee’s Candles, and Monique Jones Body Cream. Not Your Mama’s Kitchen, Pearson’s Catering, I Love Funnel Cake food trucks provided Cajun food, Soul food, lemonade, ice cream and more. Free face painting and popcorn were a hit with kids. LAPD was on hand keeping everyone safe and maintaining a low profile.

“My vision was to bring the whole community together at a free event in our park with Grammy nominated artists. This has been a great opportunity for the board to meet a lot of folks and hear about their concerns,” shares Southwest NC President Brent Page. “We heard about airplane noise and the need for speed bumps and we hope you will come to our meetings so we can work on that.”

Local resident Renee Mannings came out for the event and found it “Inspiring for our neighborhood, a positive event to uplift our community. I am a homeowner and I want to take pride in this neighborhood.”

“All of the time and effort put forth in this event really paid off. We have received phone calls and emails from community members expressing how much they truly enjoy Jazz at St Andrews and can’t wait for next year. We have already started planning to ensure next is even better! I would like to thank Gwen Walker a homeowner in the community for dedicating her time effort in securing all of our Sponsors. Thank you Gwen without you that would not have been possible!” said Danielle Strickland, Southwest Neighborhood Council Outreach Chair – Social Media Coordinator.

The Southwest Neighborhood Council thanks their sponsors: Jim Dandy Fried Chicken, Simply Wholesome Health Food Store and Restaurant, and London Automotive Care.

The Empowerment Congress Southwest Neighborhood Council meets on the third Monday of the month, 6 pm at the Mark Ridley-Thomas Constituent Service Center. The council is the connection to City Hall, working to empower the community and make City government more responsive to community needs. Contact them at Board@SouthWestNC.org and sign up for their communications by texting SOUTHWEST TO 42828.



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