Dixieland, Jazz, Blues, Ballads, Swing
Music for Listening and Dancing
Short History of the Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet
Throughout the 1970's the Potomac River Jazz Club (PRJC) bands played nightly at the Bratwursthaus in the Parkington Shopping Center (now Ballston) in Arlington, Virginia. Jazz could be heard every night except Sundays, and it was a great hangout for both musicians and jazz fans. In 1981, a fire shut the Bratwursthaus down for good. There was no longer a regular gig for many of the bands. This set the stage for the formation of the Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet.
Three musicians, Bucky (William) Buckingham (piano), Bill Rowe (drums), and Mac (Monroe) McGown (clarinet) met at Bill's home for jam sessions. In May of 1981, a friend found a gig at the Holiday in Manassas for a solid week adding a bass player, Frank Borror. Five nights of continuous playing melded the combo that wanted to continue to play. Mac gave us the name, Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet, and we played a few gigs here and there when we could get them.
Later gigs required an expanded band and so the Any Ol' Time Jazz Band was formed adding Steve Welch on trombone, Joe shepherd on trumpet, and Dave Kessler on bass as well as other players. Helen Ward would occasionally sing a song or two.
The quartet and the Any Ol' Time Jazz Band played a gig every now and then over the next few years until the opening of Jacques cafe in Clarendon in Arlington County in Virginia. We became the house band and played every Friday and Saturday night for the next five years usually to a packed house. Susan Woodruff sang with us regularly.
The band played at Jacques in Clarendon for six years to late 1990 when Jacques closed his Clarendon location and opened a new place at Fairfax Drive and Quincy Street in the Ballston area of Arlington. During this time the Any Ol' Time Jazz Band was reconstituted as a straight New Orleans style Dixieland Band. This group played on Thursday nights at the Old Jacques while the quartet played at the new Jacques.
Jacques closed his doors at the end of 1996, ending an eleven year regular gig. The band was still playing lots of gigs when Country got out his bass saxophone and became the regular bass player. Herb Greenlee joined us on the piano, and the quartet now consisted of Wally Garner on Clarinet, Herb, Country and Bill, adding Charlie when no piano was available. The band played in this form for about a year until we started playing at St. Elmo's in February of 1998.
The jam session format is a means of having a regular venue encouraging all of the musicians who have played over the years an opportunity to play regularly. This is a fun gig! The basis is a jam session where we play whatever we feel like playing at the time, particularly more obscure song titles that don't get played very often. We don't use music, but extensive lists of song titles. As long as one or more of the musicians knows the tune and a key to play it in, the rest can usually play it. So there is no preparation or practice, we are playing for own gratification as musicians, and, of course, the applause and feedback we get from our very eclectic audience. Since we usually play at St. Elmo's with more than four musicians (often with as many as ten or eleven), we have added plus to the name of the quartet, which we interpret as "plus a few more".
Look for us at First Night in Alexandria, the Bay Breeze Concerts in Chesapeake Beach, MD, Manor Care Potomac as well gigs for the PRJC concerts and Masonic and Kena Shrine affairs. It keeps us busy and active. See the band thru the years.
Mike Ritter, Band Leader
plays Bass, Clarinet, Cornet, Sax
Herb Greenlee, Piano
Steve Watson, Drums
Paul Mastradon, Bass
Dick Parks, Brass
Chip Kelly, Guitar & Banjo
Norm Cone, Saxophone