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First Annual Spring Jazz Jam Hits Lowcountry
4/29/2015 4:10:33 PM

Oscar Rivers

LeRoy Smalls
By Joel Woodhall

The Charleston Jazz Club presented the First Annual Spring Jazz Jam this past Sunday evening at the Barsa Tapas, Lounge & Bar from 4-8pm. The event was held to bring people together to enjoy Jazz music, performed by local performers and to honor John Tecklenburg in his current race for mayor, in the City of Charleston. The event was free to the public.

Sunday evening was a warm and sunny day in Charleston, a perfect spring day to enjoy the Charleston musical culture. More than 50 artists from the local area came out to perform at Sunday's Jazz Jam event. Dennis Fassuliotis, the Founder of the Charleston Jazz Club and Steve Simon of the Kings of Jazz, organized the event.

Local native of Charleston, Oscar Rivers, 74, Leader of Oscar Rivers Jazz Quartet and local Jazz icon, manned the keyboard this evening. “I share my emotional and personal expressions when I play,” said Rivers. “It’s like therapy.” Rivers has been a musician for more than 60 years and has a Masters Degree in Music Performance from Roosevelt University of Chicago. Along with playing music for himself, he taught music for the vast majority of his life. Mr. Rivers has 3 children and survives his wife Fabian Rene Rivers, who died in 1991. She too was a musician.

LeRoy Smalls Jr., 61, who is also a local native to Charleston, jammed out on the saxophone throughout the evening. Smalls is a retired band teacher from St. Johns High School and is also a veteran musician, playing instruments and music since he was 5 years old. Watching Smalls play the saxophone was exciting and powerful; his passion truly flowed through the saxophone. “It takes me into another world that is not part of this one,” Mr. Smalls explains. “It’s like I leave earth. It’s a medicine, it heals.”

The main speaker of the event was John Tecklenburg, who is also a musician himself that plays the piano. The event welcomed donations to help support Mr. Tecklenburg during his race for Mayor in the City of Charleston. Tecklenburg, 57, is a life long resident of Charleston, whose life is firmly embedded in the roots of the city.

Candidate Tecklenburg couldn’t make any political promises this evening, but he could make one social promise: There will be more live music in Charleston.

Tecklenburg is a Commerical Realtor with Clement, Crawford, and Thornhill and has a lengthy history in business. He has had a helping hand in many of the cities programs include South Carolina Strong, working with the homeless, and was the Director of Economic Development for the City of Charleston, in the late 90’s. His son, Joseph Tecklenburg, describes him as “The Jack of All Trades.” Tecklenburg is a man of faith and comes from a large family; he is 1 of 5 brothers, married, and has 5 children of his own.

Tecklenburg has never held a position in office before. He has currently raised more than $250,000 for his race to become mayor. Election day for the City of Charleston’s new Mayor is November 3rd, 2015.

The Kings of Jazz preforms regularly every Thursday night at Barsa Tapas, Lounge, & Bar 7-10 pm. Capacity is limited, be sure to call ahead and save yourself a spot so you’re not waiting in line.

The Oscar Rivers Jazz Quartet plays regularly at the Music Café and Tapas Bar, 1956 Maybank Hwy, James Island every Wednesday night at 8pm and Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm.

Follow the Charleston Jazz Club on Facebook at

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Charles Joseph buckley Submitted: 5/5/2015
Great Job Joel!!! For helping me understand and respect the love and passion that goes into creating jazz music!!!

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