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 • Andrew County
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Raymond E Alburn
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Birth: Apr. 16, 1930
Death: Jun. 1, 2007

Courtesy of the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Society

Ray Alburn was the consummate musician. He dressed the part. He looked the part. And he carried with him the joy that is a part of his music the up-tempo, finger snapping, feet moving feeling of big band swing a joy he passed on to everyone around him.

And his trumpet. When Ray raised his horn and the first notes filled the air, those of us who grew up with a love of big band music were transported back to a time remembered as a better day. A day of musicians and musicianship. A day of sheet music and arrangers. A day when a great song would last not for a month or two, or even for years, but for decades.

Younger members of his audience raised on MTV, could see Ray on stage and get a glimpse of the past. His stage presence, his horn, his love of the music was infectious. And when his band started swinging, it was obvious why this music remains popular with so many today.

* * *
Ray Alburn was the consummate band leader. He formed dance bands while still in high school and again in college. He was student conductor of the concert band at the University of Missouri. In the Air Force he became conductor of the 571st Air Force Band in Austin Texas while playing trumpet with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Graduating college, Ray returned to his hometown, Savannah, Mo, as high school music director for five years. And again he began to form bands; a seven piece group that played Saturdays at Charlie's Supper Club in St. Joe, a larger group that became the house band for the Frog Hop ballroom. Moving to Denver, it was the Ray Alburn Band that drew fans from across the nation to Taylor's Supper Club to relax, dance and enjoy the music.

After a stint in California, Ray returned to Savannah in 1991 and, at the request of fans, reformed the Ray Alburn Band a year later, starting at the Holiday Inn in downtown St. Joseph. That's when he recruited a young jazz singer and trombone player, Kathleen Holeman, who became an integral part of the band and, on her own, a jazz performer in demand throughout the Midwest. It is Kathleen's experience, musical training and love of big band jazz as well as her deep respect and affection for Ray Alburn that prompts her to front the band at the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival and into the future.

* * *
Ray Alburn was the consummate community supporter and leader. He served on the board of the Performing Arts Association of St. Joseph for nine years including two as vice president and two as president. Most recently he was chairman of the program committee, making sure that the variety of acts coming to the Missouri Theater included jazz oriented groups.

When the call went out in the late summer of 1998 for volunteers to help form the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Society, Ray was one of the first through the door. His presence was an incentive. If Ray, already known throughout the area as a leader in the jazz community, was willing to give his time and energy, the organization had to become a success. That year, and every year since, Ray's band was on stage during the festival, drawing crowds and spreading musical joy. Knowing that the Society had limited operating funds, he asked little for the band's appearance. It was learned recently that he made up part of the band member's pay from his own pocket.

Ray's band always maintained a high quality of musicianship. Many of the members had been with him for years. Filling in the numbers were professional musicians working as area high school and college level instructors as well as gifted amateurs whose love for great music brought them to the stage. And in front was Ray, with his silver hair and golden trumpet, creating a tangible link to the past, thrilling the audience with his musicianship, and assuring us with his presence that great music will always have a place in our lives. Yes Ray, you will be sorely missed.

Courtesy of the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Society 
The Leader of the Band
Savannah Cemetery
Andrew County
Missouri, USA
Created by: A. Coats
Record added: Oct 24, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60574365
Raymond E Alburn
Added by: A. Coats
Raymond E Alburn
Added by: A. Coats
Raymond E Alburn
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Joyce Cordonnier
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Was great to know you.
- Barbara Duncan
 Added: Dec. 10, 2012

- Darlene T.
 Added: Feb. 13, 2012

- A. Coats
 Added: Oct. 27, 2010

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