Big Band of the Week – Dave Tucker & the Roaring Big Band

— by Bob Jacobson —

In October, 2017 the Dave Tucker-John Blount Big Band suffered a huge loss with the death of its co-leader, trumpeter John Blount. The band’s determination to continue is reflected in its new name, Dave Tucker & the Roaring Big Band.

In 2001 Tucker and Blount assembled a big band to play a tribute concert to Buddy Rich. After the concert and resulting Grammy-nominated CD, Blount told Tucker, “We’ve got to keep this band alive.” The band continued under their joint leadership. They’ve also played tributes to Harry James, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, but Tucker says he doesn’t want the ensemble to be only a tribute band or a rehearsal band. “We always try to have a project to work on. I want us to have our own sound” says Tucker, adding, “I have the absolute top people up and down the whole East Coast.” Many of the members played in military service bands. Tucker spent two years at the Navy Music School and played in a navy show band, followed by 17 years in L.A.

Tucker had no trouble rattling off in rapid order the three main challenges faced by the band: (1) Getting work: “Jazz is totally neglected in this country. We play in places for nothing or the door. Military bands play for free. Musicians expect to be paid. Venues can’t afford or don’t want to pay. However, some venues are doing it for food and beverage profits while bands take the cover charge or admission.” Tucker says he is still looking for a venue for a Jazz in the Afternoon series. (2) “Getting reputable musicians versus ‘quacks.’ Some may be monsters but are not responsible” (he gave the example of a musician coming to a gig in a tuxedo and tennis shoes). (3) Lack of new music and arrangements.

The band has close to 300 charts, with a main book of about 130. Aside from tribute concerts, they play two shows per year at Ram’s Head in Annapolis and concerts at the church in Glen Burnie where they rehearse.

The band’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/DaveTuckerJohnBlountBigBand. They also have eight videos on youtube.com.

This article continues our series on area big bands — if you missed any of them, you can catch them here at Big Band of the Week.