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Wolverines Romp at Rosensteel!
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 Tim Onasch, Publicity, PRJC

The PRJC monthly special for March featured one of the best traditional jazz bands to come out of the New England area in recent times. This band is the Wolverine Jazz Band which is composed of seven veteran musicians, most of whom have performed in other trad bands in and around the Boston area. Many PRJC folks are familiar with a number of the faces: Jimmy Mazzy on banjo and vocals, as well as Jeff Hughes on cornet and trumpet (you may have heard him perform with the Paramount Jazz Band, a venerable trad band from Bean Town). The rest of the Wolverines' line-up ain't exactly no slouches, neither! John Clark is on reeds and is the leader of the band; Tom Boates blasts a mean trombone; Ross Petot on piano, Rick MacWilliams on tuba and Dave Didrickson on drums round out the rhythm section. A few of those in attendance mentioned that they had heard the Wolverine Jazz Band perform at the Chattanooga and various Connecticut Festivals before and assured This Writer that we were all in for a mighty fine 3 hours of some great traditional jazz, played the way it should be.


    The venue for the event was a place familiar to most PRJC members who regularly attend monthly specials: Rosensteel Hall in Silver Spring, MD. The performance began at 7:00PM and ended at 10:00PM on an extremely balmy night for early March (Saturday, March 7, to be exact!). In fact, the 70-degree temperatures brought out one of the largest crowds to witness a monthly special in quite a few years, possibly rivaling or even eclipsing the Banu Gibson special a few summers back. The band's reputation also undoubtedly had much to do with the large turnout. I'd like to make an educated guess that at least 100 people showed up for the event, including 8 or more swing-dance couples. The club had been averaging around 60-70 for recent specials.


    The Wolverines kicked off its first of 3 sets with "When My Dreamboat Comes Home", followed by a rousing rendition of "Jazz Me Blues". The band next played a sultry version of Duke Ellington's "The Mooche" that inspired all swing-dance members in attendance to get up and cut a rug (or better stated, cut some wood, as the dance floor was of the parquet variety). Tom Boates showed his mastery of the trombone on the next tune, "St. James Infirmary". The Wolverines polished off its first set with a hot rendition of "Dinah" that once again enticed numerous couples to get up and dance.


    Set 2 began with another dance-inspiring number, "Royal Garden Blues", followed by "More" (from the Italian movie "Mondo Cane"), which had a number of couples dancing cheek to cheek. The rest of the set included such gems as "Sweet Jennie Lee", "I Ain't Lazy; I'm Just Dreaming" and "Diga-Diga-Doo," all played to perfection.


    The final set began with a tune that Yours Truly hadn't heard before, "On the Mall", which was actually inspired by our own National Mall! The Wolverines also played Jelly Roll Morton's "The Wolverine Blues" during the third set, which This Writer found to be most appropriate, given the band's moniker! This band performed a lively version of "Oriental Strut" near the end of the set.


    The night ended with the Wolverine Jazz Band playing an old Louis Armstrong chestnut, "Swing That Music". This rousing number got just about everyone who could fit onto the floor to get up and dance. The swing-dancers knelt down in the middle of the parquet floor and clapped as each couple took a turn gliding in front of their little semi-circle. You could tell that these young folks were inspired as, when the last notes faded off into oblivion, they all approached the stage in unison and applauded the Wolverines enthusiastically causing others to follow suit. It was something that This Writer hadn't observed at a monthly special before!


    Another indication of the audience's overall appreciation for what it had just heard was the number of CD's that were sold. The Wolverines have at least 7-8 different ones available and folks were gobbling them up all night long, including Yours Truly. I think just about everyone wanted to take back a little memento of that night and rightfully so! Yes, I do believe that the club will invite the Wolverine Jazz Band back for another triumphant evening of good, authentic traditional jazz.
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