Tag Archives: Junius Courtney Big Band
The Junius Courtney Big Band was born in Berkeley, and it’s entirely fitting that the irrepressibly swinging 19-piece ensemble kicks off a series of events celebrating its 50th anniversary with a dance party Friday at Freight & Salvage, a venue that has hosted the band regularly for the past decade.
While the band’s namesake founder, an ebullient trumpeter and vocalist, passed away in 2003, his son, drummer Nat Courtney, has kept the JCBB rolling, the most visible legacy of a family with deep Berkeley ties. Propelled by the dogged efforts of trombonist Pat Mullan, who spent many years working as a librarian in downtown branch of the Berkeley Public Library, the orchestra is built around a core of long-time members, including trumpeter and music director George Spencer and bassist Terry Hilliard, a Bay Area jazz stalwart who provided the clave groove on Cal Tjader’s Latin jazz classic “Soul Sauce.” Trumpeter Frank Fisher and pianist Roberta Mandel both started performing with Junius Courtney in the 1960s. … Continue reading »
When an ensemble keeps performing after the death of its namesake leader, it’s known as a ghost band. Though descriptive rather than pejorative, the term often carries a whiff of the dismissive, as if a musical legacy should be interred with its creator (things work differently in the world of dance, where no one seems interested in tossing dirt on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater).