Big Band of the Week – Sunday Night Big Band

What do you do if you want to return to big band jazz after not playing your horn for years, but you cannot find a band in your area? Well, if you’re Bob Luce, you start your own. That’s what the computer scientist/tenor saxophonist/vocalist did in January, 2014. He began with only five musicians; by that August he led a sixteen-piece big band in its first concert. Along the way Luce found a regular rehearsal space at Trinity Lutheran Church in Westminster, where they have rehearsed nearly every Sunday night since.

Four years later Luce is still excited about the band. When I spoke to him on a Thursday night earlier this year, he told me with great enthusiasm, “I definitely look forward to my Sunday nights. Like right now I’m picking out the tunes we’ll rehearse this Sunday,” adding, “although I put in a lot of work outside of rehearsal—finding songs, musicians, gigs, etc.—all the members are very appreciative. I get almost all positive feedback from them, so that keeps me motivated.” At that time the band included players ranging from a high school student to ninety-year-old trumpeter Jack Dennis.

This is mostly a rehearsal band, but Luce is quite active at finding gigs. Annual performances have included a summer picnic in which non-members are invited to jam and a Christmas in July concert, the last one recorded on Facebook Live. Other gigs have included the Westminster Flower and Jazz Festival, Carroll Arts Center, and a benefit for Caring Carroll. The band’s repertoire includes jazz standards from the ‘30s through the ‘60s and some material from later years, such as tunes popularized by Chuck Mangione, Wynton Marsalis and Spyro Gyra. They have recorded one album, Almost Love, available on iTunes or at cdbaby.com. You may see videos of Sunday Night Big Band on youtube.com and Facebook (under Sunday Big Band), including a dozen concerts and rehearsals.

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.