The Natural Gas Jazz Band Ends 52 Year Gig

After 52 years of playing and promoting traditional jazz around the world, the curtain finally came down on the Natural Gas Jazz Band at a farewell concert and celebration in late August in San Anselmo, California. There aren’t many bands that can claim to have maintained a stable lineup of competent musicians for over five decades; performed, recorded or rehearsed on 2,300 different days; been invited to a total of 104 jazz festivals, traveled on 24 international tours; and been recognized as the first American jazz band to play in Siberia. This is a band that started out as a group of professionals in the San Francisco Bay area that was organized as a neighborhood jazz band. A banjo-playing Marin County surgeon and a dentist who played piano had been providing informal entertainment at cocktail parties and fundraisers when in 1970, they backed up a vocal quartet that included lawyer Bob Murphy at a testimonial dinner for a retiring county official. After the event, Bob mentioned to Dr. Elmer “Bud” Weden that he played clarinet in high school, but hadn’t touched the instrument in 19 years. Doc Weden was unfazed by that admission, and the dis
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Lew Shaw started writing about music as the publicist for the famous Berkshire Music Barn in the 1960s. He joined the West Coast Rag in 1989 and has been a guiding light to this paper through the two name changes since then as we grew to become The Syncopated Times.  47 of his profiles of today's top musicians are collected in Jazz Beat: Notes on Classic Jazz. Volume two, Jazz Beat Encore: More Notes on Classic Jazz contains 43 more! Lew taps his extensive network of connections and friends throughout the traditional jazz world to bring us his Jazz Jottings column every month.

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