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Ranny Reeve jazz fest set for Friday to honor Black History Month

Improv jazz legend Ranny Reeve, 86, plays the

Improv jazz legend Ranny Reeve, 86, plays the piano with Bennett McComb, 12, of Riverhead, during a lesson in Reeve's home in Coram. (Feb. 11, 2012) Credit: Daniel Brennan

The Kings Park Heritage Museum will host its annual Ranny Reeve Jazz Festival on Friday, Feb. 28, in celebration of Black History Month.

Reeve is a nearly 88-year-old improv legend, music teacher and Coram resident.

“He’s been a great community member. Because of him, Kings Park community members have gone on to have successful jazz careers,” said museum volunteer Lois Valpis.

Reeve recently recalled in a phone conversation the first time jazz music made him feel something.

“One night I had my radio on and I heard Benny Goodman’s theme song. It was 1937 and I was 11 ½. Then something went on in my big toe,” he said.

Reeve said he is determined to keep jazz alive.

“It’s America’s music,” he said.

At Friday’s event, which will run from 7 to 9 p.m., musicians will include both amateurs and professionals.

“We mix it up with high school kids just starting out and professional guys who will knock your socks off,” Reeve said.

The evening will close with Reeve’s famous “Jazz in the Living Room” ensemble.

Members of the group can range from elementary aged children to adults and span all levels of experience.

Admission is free and open to the public. The Kings Park Heritage Museum is located at 101 Church St.

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