Bringing the Swing Era into the 21st century

— The future of the Bear Cat Jass Band may be a bit cloudy right now, but one thing’s clear as day: the hot octet will swing with abandon at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 14, at Johnson Park.

Dick Ames, who is in his 57th year as a jazz bandleader, thinks this may be one of the Bear Cats’ final performances.

“All I can say is that maybe, maybe the band will be able to go on a little bit more,” he said. Ames will celebrate his 95th birthday on Dec. 30.

In any case, he’s really looking forward to the free concert on July 14. He recently chatted with me about some of the notable numbers in the Bear Cat Jass Band repertoire:

“Just Because.” “We always open with that tune. Everybody likes to play it, and it’s a good quick opener.”

“Sweet Like This.” “That’s a Joe Oliver composition, kind of a medium tempo and it features the trumpets.”

 “Creole Love Call.” “Most people think of that as a Duke Ellington tune …On part of it, the trombone plays way up high, then the bass sax get going and then the reed players pick up their clarinets and play together.”

“Canal Street Blues.” “That’s another King Oliver tune named after the main street down in New Orleans. In our arrangement, we feature two trombones.”

“Big Bear Stomp.” “That’s a tune that [trumpeter] Lu Watters wrote and performed with the Yerba Buena Jazz Band out in California. It’s uptempo, and people love to dance to it.”

“Yes Sir, That’s My Baby.” “And I don’t mean maybe …Everyone knows that one. Our trombonist, Bill Palange, sings it.”

“I Had Someone Else Before I Had You (And I’ll Have Someone After You’re Gone).” “That’s sort of a funny one. Palange sings that one too.”

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