Big Band of the Week – Annapolis Junction Big Band

— by Bob Jacobson

Annapolis Junction Big Band, founded in 1991, may be the only ensemble named for the scene of a car accident, one in which director Jim Tavener was involved but not seriously hurt.  Like so many other big bands in our area, this one’s leader plays trumpet. He also doubles on trombone. Retired from the Air Force, he manages five bands, including Annapolis Jazztet and Kings of Crownsville.

The band has over 200 charts, including tunes made famous by Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Nestico, Count Basie and Nat “King” Cole. Tavener emphasizes that they are mainly a dance band but also play concerts, some at their rehearsal space, Chesapeake Center for the Arts. The band performed for three years at the King of France Tavern in Annapolis.

Asked about the challenges faced by the big band, Tavener replies, “It’s hard to get jazz gigs. Big band music is not as popular as it used to be.”  He adds that “(Naval) Academy folks in their twenties love it. They come and do Lindy dancing.” I also asked why he continues leading and playing in the band despite the challenges. Tavener said, “I do it for the love of the music. Once you’ve played lead trumpet in a big band, you don’t want to let that go.”

Like some other local big bands, Annapolis Junction has a smaller offshoot, the 11-piece Annapolis Junction Lite, which began a monthly gig at the Fleet Reserve Club in Annapolis in November.

The band’s web site, http://annapolisjunctionbigband.com, includes 46 audio tracks—17 Christmas songs and 29 other tunes.

This article continues our series on area big bands — if you missed the last one, you can catch it here at Big Band of the Week – Ain’t Misbehavin’ Big Band.