by S. Rotan Hale
As patrons approached the banquet hall entrance, the soft melodious sounds of The William Penn Quartet set the stage as Harrison Museum of African American Culture presented its annual Jazz Brunch.
The affair, held Sunday, Sept. 9 at Hotel Roanoke, has become a staple for those who look forward to an afternoon of good jazz, good food and delightful fellowship, all for a good cause.
As always, MC Kianna Price led the well-attended affair with lighthearted banter that she’s known to deliver.
Many people in this fast-paced world today, (due to a lack of understanding) may not appreciate jazz. However nothing was more perfect than the selection of standard jazz classics played by the ensemble that–to a great deal–elevated the affair’s ambiance.
With Penn on piano, adding some occasional vocals, his backup quartet featured: Charlie Perkinson, upright bass; James Lax, drums; Brian Mesko, guitar and John Gregg, trumpet–all trusted figures on the local jazz scene respectively.
The event also features a silent auction. Included in this year’s prizes was jewelry from She’s International Boutique, Diane Speaks (owner/operator); an overnight stay complements Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center; wine basket complements Blue Ridge Senior Services (Trish White-Boyd, dir.) and framed artwork offered by the museum itself.
For years the affair has been the major prelude to the annual Henry Street Festival–the museum’s flagship fund-raiser, typically held in mid September in Elmwood Park, downtown. The fellowship and social interaction alone, serve as gravitating forces for those who look forward to each of the traditional celebrations of community.
Both events, generally well attended, stand alone as the areas premier functions and are considered by many to be unequaled in their efforts to provide uplifting experiences regarding African American engagement and entertainment.