Big Band of the Week – Baltimore County Senior Swing Band
— by Bob Jacobson
Totally composed of senior citizens ranging from 60 to over 90, the Baltimore County Senior Swing Band (BCSSB) began twenty years ago under the direction of Maurice Feldman, a former Baltimore County School Department music supervisor. The band, led by saxophonist Matt Elky, a 74-year-old retired public school music teacher, is sponsored by the Reisterstown Senior Center, where they rehearse every Tuesday. The band plays about 20 concerts per year in Baltimore and Howard Counties for audiences of other seniors. Recent venues have included senior centers, assisted living facilities, the Baltimore County Power of Aging Expo, and Baltimore County Department of Aging’s annual volunteer luncheon.
At age 68, percussionist Mel Valentine is one of the younger members. Two years ago he was invited to join by a trombonist at the Tuesday night jazz workshop at Randallstown Community Center led by pianist Derrick Amin. The big band sound was new to him and he found it appealing. Valentine likes the big band because it gives him an opportunity to display his talent on Latin numbers and because that is where he discovered that he could sing.
Director Matt Elky says, “We enjoy our camaraderie and are really a little family. We have fun playing together, playing for other people and spreading happiness to others. We perform songs seniors have heard before and just love. It is wonderful. We just love what we do.”
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 – Annapolis Junction Big Band.