Jazz Gauntlet

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My first official big band gig was performed with a local rehearsal band at the Green Mill bar in a north-side ward of Chicago called Uptown. I was nineteen at the time and didn’t fully appreciate the wealth of historical ambience that establishment had accumulated. The Green Mill was one of Chicago’s historical treasures, an authentic piano bar from the early 1900’s, an infamous hang-out for the notorious Al Capone; it still displayed a couple of holes in the wall paneling made by bullets that once upon a time, had Al’s name on them.

The band I played trumpet with that night was real “Squaresville,” that’s jazz lingo for less than interesting. The band members all had to wear matching, blue, green and red plaid blazers and bow ties. The music we played was traditional swing music from the forties attributed to dance bands like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and…

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