It was 91 degrees, and visitors to the Chester Village Green on June 6 were treated to some hot jazz from Fort Lee’s “First Class Jazz Band.”
The seven-member group performed at the 17th annual event sponsored by the Chester Kiwanis Club and the Village News. However, it might be the last time a band from Fort Lee performs in Chester anytime soon.
Staff Sgt. Michael Kiese, a Hawaii native, plays electric guitar for the jazz band. He noted that Fort Lee’s entire band, which also includes rock and marching bands and a brass quintet, is scheduled to go inactive as of Sept. 15.
“The Army’s got different priorities at different times,” Commander James Landrum said, when asked why the band is going inactive. He added that it was a budget-cutting measure to save funds which could be used in other areas. He added that the Fort Lee band was scheduled to go inactive in 2016, but that the decision was later changed.
The Fort Eustis Army Band from Newport News is scheduled to take over performances in the Richmond area when the Fort Lee Army Band goes inactive, Landrum said.
Kiese noted that the Army Reserve has a band in Richmond and the National Guard has one in Roanoke.
The bands typically will play for patriotic and community events.