With a few well-placed ads, or a musical group of friends, it can be pretty easy to put together a rock band or barbershop quartet. For those looking to perform with a big band, however, opportunities are few to assemble the needed many parts.
Last year, when Bob Luce decided he wanted to pick up and perform with a big band, styled after groups like the Glenn Miller or Count Basie orchestras, he said it was difficult to find an organization to fit his needs. So he started his own.
Luce put out ads throughout the Carroll County community, in print and online, searching for fellow big band enthusiasts, eventually growing into an 18-piece orchestra.
Sunday, Luce and the Sunday Night Big Band, will perform their summer concert at the Carroll Arts Center. The concert will feature a mix of big band favorites as well as some new pieces to the Sunday Night Big Band repertoire, including "Little Brown Jug," "April in Paris," and a few original pieces. Luce said the big band sound provides something no other kind of band can.
"When you're listening to live music with the brass and the saxophones, it just has an excitement to it. It puts a smile to your face and makes your foot tap," Luce said. "It's the brass and horns that you don't really get with other genres. Rock and country don't often feature them. The trumpets and such give it a little extra power."
The band rehearses at Trinity Lutheran Church in Westminster every Sunday — hence the name — and held their first performance at the Carroll Arts Center earlier this year. Since then they've performed around the county at parties, senior centers, churches and the TownMall of Westminster. Luce said he hopes these Arts Center performances become a regular occurrence for the band.
The members of the 18-piece band range in age from high schoolers to members who are nearly 90.
Andy LaMora, alto saxophonist from Finksburg, said falls in between the two extremes, but it's this blend of personalities that makes the big band so unique.
"You sit there in the band and think 'Holy Toledo, that guy knew the players whose names are on the charts we're playing,'" LaMora said. "It's pretty rare that one activity can have such a broad range of ages where people participate at an equal level."
LaMora joined when his wife saw an ad in the classifieds looking for qualified musicians. He said he jumped at the opportunity.
"I played as a kid and in college, but hadn't really had a chance to play since," LaMora said. "It's kind of a special thing. You've got 18 people playing different charts and somehow they all come together."
Luce also said being a part of this band was his first time performing big band music out of his experience in school and college.
"It's difficult to coordinate that many players," Luce said. "Finding a place to rehearse, organizing schedules — it's difficult. We're so thankful for Trinity Lutheran Church for giving us a space."
For guitarist Rick Appel, of Aberdeen, the Sunday Night Big Band is only one of several musical groups he participates in. He said the orchestra caught his eye because he had never had a chance to perform in this genre before.
"I love playing jazz guitar, but I had never played with a big band, and I wanted the experience," Appel said. "A big band is like no other guitar part on the planet. It's a whole different approach to guitar playing, with its own special techniques. It's terrific. It helps me in many ways for my own playing."
Lamora said he has always loved the music of the big bands, with favorite songs including "Feel So Good," and "Little Brown Jug."
"The big band, at its best, is the height of nuance. With a good arranger you get this symphonic blend of different voices to play some great tunes," Lamora said. "There is a challenge to it as well. I had a gap of 15-plus years where I barely touched my horn. It's a thrill to be jumping back in and keeping up. I love it."