Vocalist and friend, Peggie Perkins sent me a notice recently on FACEBOOK re: a regular jazz music event every Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Every Wednesday Big Band is made up of mostly professional senior musicians. Peggie Perkins sings and also emcees the activity. This is a great gig for seniors, of which we are many! This senior center is very big and has a lot of room for seniors and dancing as well. It is also very well attended.

This Seniors (19) piece big band is made up of four trumpets, Terry Baylor, Tom Cunningham, Johnny Kleker and George Lucas. Trombones include Bob Adams, Mike Henshall, Darrel Anderson and Don McGurn. Saxes include Alden Waldo, Rob Kilgore, Adrian Tapia, Paul Delgado and Jim Travers. The Rhythm section has John Hoehn (piano), Pete Ritter (guitar), Pat Morvan (bass) and Dick Castanos (percussion). Vocalist/Emcee is Peggie Perkins. Today, John “Chris” Christensen leads the band and is their fine drummer as well. Other weeks, a selected few musicians in the band, take turns leading this superb organization.

Their two sets included a wide variety of music that everyone enjoys. “A Pretty Girl is like a Melody” (moderate swing) and “Biscuits ‘n Honey” (latin rock) started the band’s afternoon. Perkins sang “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Could I Have this Dance the Rest of my Life.” These were good picks that the audience liked a lot. Her voice accentuates the song lyrics very well. Both songs were good and fine arrangements for this big band. A Count Basie number, “Straight Ahead” moved ahead to a fast swing number. A longtime Latin classic, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” livened up the dance floor in cha-cha mode. Peggie Perkins sang another favorite, “Hey Mambo, Italiano.” Before ending the first set, the band performed a Latin Fantasy, a medley, (beguine/samba) with two very recognizable tunes that I did not get the name of, bringing just about everybody to the dance floor. Many members of the band, especially the horn sections took and gave many excellent solos during all of the afternoon.

Set Two was musically exciting, starting with “Little Brown Jug,” a famous number from the earlier big band era, (Glenn Miller), (medium swing). Peggie Perkins sang two more classic numbers, “Makin’ Whoopee” and “The Nearness of You.” Her song style fits comfortably with this big band and delights the entire audience. Continuing with other numbers, the set
included “Margie” (moderate swing), “Blue Tango,” “Brasilla” (bossa nova/samba), a definite highlight of the afternoon. Peggie sang a fine version of “Our Love is Here to Stay,” the band supporting her excellently. Closing the segment for the afternoon were: “Spanish Eyes,” “Moon River,” and “Moments to Remember” (rock ballad).

This big band is well worth seeing and hearing and will be a regular attraction for a good long time at Eldorado Park Senior Center, 2800 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach, CA 90815, (562) 570-3225.

Glenn A. Mitchell