Back in My Own Backyard!

The May 21st meeting of the Arizona Classic Jazz Society celebrated Cheryl Thurston’s birthday. The talented and multi-instrumentalist is well known in the Society and leads the in-between-sets “Jammers” at most of the Society’s monthly jazz parties.

Dan Reed (tp), Bob Daniels (dr), Cheryl Thurston (tp), Elliot Ventimiglia (cl) and Greg Varlotta (tb)

Cheryl’s birthday band had Dan Reed (tp/cnt/flgl), Howard Alden (gtr/bj), Bob Daniels (dr), Greg Varlotta (tb), Elliot Ventimiglia (reeds), and Igor Glenn (bs/kazoo/bells). Cheryl and Dan had several duets that highlighted both their professional and comedic artistries.

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A variety of tunes were performed and Greg also displayed his tap-dancing “percussion-ism” with his portable and at-the-ready dance floor. Again Steve Means (cl) and Marge Scooros (wash) highlighted the Jammers contributions to another delightful Sunday afternoon.

Cheryl Thurston (melodica), Dan Reed (flgl) and Bob Daniels (dr)

The Society breaks during the summer months so the next event will be in September.

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That same weekend, Ray Templin (p) with the Wildcat Jazz Band, was invited to attend the Madison Jazz Society’s last meeting with Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band in Wisconsin.

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Some words from Ray on that special event:

I was honored to be a part of Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band which played the final concert for The Madison Jazz Society on May 21st held at The East Side Club on the beautiful shores of Lake Monona. The Society wanted to “go out in style” with a performance by Bob, who played their very first concert almost 40 years ago. Attendance was great and the band sounded wonderful. What could have been a somber occasion became a celebration with laughing, dancing and amazing music. Our three band sets just flew by.

For me, this was a real “blast from the past,” as I have known and worked with most of the musicians since the 1970s. A particular joy was first time playing with tuba man Dave Bock, who performs with The Chicago Cellar Boys. His mentor was the late Mike Walbridge and he played Mike’s horn admirably. This “blast from the past” reassured me that there is a healthy future for this music in the hands of today’s capable young players.

Photo by Bess Wade: Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band 05/21/2023
Left to right: Ray Skjelbred, piano – Ray Templin, drums – Kim Cusack, clarinet – Dave Bock, tuba – Scott Anthony, banjo – Bob Schulz, cornet – Tom Bartlett, trombone

Unfortunately, Ray sent me a notice that Kim Cusack had passed away on June 2nd, less than two weeks after this memorable performance.

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Arthur Vint (dr) another member of the Wildcat Jazz Band is also the Artistic Director for Hotel Congress’ Century Room here in Tucson. This venue has only been open for 16 months and has exceeded all expectations with overwhelming response from the local community. The Hotel Congress (celebrating its 100th year in Tucson) complex has an outdoor music stage with a variety of genres and a perfect setting with our compatible weather, but the Century Room is styled after a 1920s vintage venue. It started out with music over the weekends and now has a live band every night!

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Complete with a long, beautiful bar and dozens of vinyl record covers displayed along the walls, the Century Room serves standard libations and small plates. Many nights have no cover and invite customers to enjoy their offerings along with a variety of live bands, including Big Band, Latin, Piano/Duets, Jazz Trios & Quartets, Vocalists, etc. There are usually two shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and they have now introduced a Sunday matinee. They have a late night “reverse happy hour” too, that begins after 10 pm.

Band at the Century Room – Bob Hinkle (bj) Marco Rosano (cl), Guy Senese (sopsax), Adam Jones (bs), Glenn Gross (french) Calvin Simmers (dr) and Bob Frankot (vln)

Wednesday is “trad” night and we were across the street at Maynard’s restaurant, a companion establishment with the same owners. Walking over to the Century Room with a few minutes to spare, we were just in time for the band led by Guy Senese (cnt/sax/cl) with Ron Hinkle (bj), Adam Jones (bs), Calvin Simmers (dr), Bob Frankot (vln), Marco Rosano (cl/p) and Glenn Gross (tp/cnt/french). At one point our server, Anthony Gibes (tp) joined the band giving additional meaning to the phrase—singing (and playing) waiters! As far as the “dancing syncopators” part, a group of local Lindy Hoppers began showing their talents and the place was truly “jumping”—at first there were only about eight dancers, then that amount doubled as the dancers greeted new arrivals and each other while taking turns with various partners. It is always fun to watch these (usually!) young people laughing and enjoying themselves in a music setting. So although it was not quite “Honky-tonk Town,” we definitely enjoyed a look at the past being brought forward to the present. I am glad it is MY present!

After 48-1/2 years, Shelly Gallichio is a retired Real Estate Associate Broker in Tucson, Arizona and despite growing up in Chicago, fell in love with the clarinet and the New Orleans sound at the age of three—she intends to spend the next 48-1/2 years seeking that sound! Reach her at [email protected]

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