In the beginning…

May 25th, 2011 by tom

Remembering back 35 years to the Spring of 1976 when I started the TCO… what a time it was!  I was 23 years old and in the middle of a massive born-again supernatural encounter with God (or call it a massive psychotic episode, if you prefer).  I was auditing classes at American University and hanging out in the music building.  Sometimes I’d just sit in a practice room listening to Jim Moulder upstairs doing his piano exercises.  Jim’s still a major presence on the DC jazz scene, headlining regularly at the Ice House Café.  Anyway, I’d accumulated a “book” from having led the VMI Commanders dance band for three years, from leading a rehearsal big band during my year at Berklee, and from co-leading the summertime “New Alexandria Jazz Band,” which rehearsed at Trinity Methodist, then later at my alma mater, TC Williams.  But when Doc Boggs told me I could help myself to anything in “those” file cabinets – the old stuff – I took full advantage.  I remember him blanching as I made multiple trips in front of his eyes from his office to the back of Dad’s station wagon.  Now I really had a book, and I knew tons of musicians, mostly from TC and AU.  I wish I could name every guy who was at that very first TCO rehearsal in the AU band room, but I do recall Jim on piano, TC’s Dave Jernigan on guitar (before he became one of DC’s top bass players), Dave Kasler (Air Force Band) or Matt Grossman on bass (they took turns), drummer nonpareil Jim West who was soon to take my room in a Rosslyn group house, housemate Gladwin Priel my Air Force connection, and Ron Oshima on altos, Steve the AU security cop on lead trumpet, Wayne Toyne (AF), Larry Eden (AU), and Jim Robeson (AU) trumpets, plus Royal Burkhardt on lead trombone.  There was a high school kid from Bethesda, Jon Elmer, who played a soulful plunger/blues trombone, and Tom Steele, be-bop bone from Vienna.  An Air Force tenor man who was outa sight and the others just escape me.  That first version of the TCO rehearsed weekly into the summer, moving over to Mrs. Jernigan’s basement after school let out, but it never gigged; I consider it a divine “earnest” on things to come…

Posted in Tom Cunningham News

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