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Starliters Big Band to Give Free Performance on Saturday, Dec. 10
Photo by John Eaton
The Starliters Big Band rehearsed at the John P. Eaton American Legion in South Corning, New York on Sunday, Nov. 27. Pictured are members of the trumpet section.
Those who love to dance or watch others do it, listen to music or sing along are invited to a free performance by the Starliters Big Band at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts at 104 Main Street in Wellsboro. There will be room for dancing.
Based in Corning, New York, the Starliters will perform music from the swing era (1935 to 1945), such as “American Patrol,” “In the Mood,” “Satin Doll,” “Don’t SIeep Under the AppIe Tree,” “Little Brown Jug” and “Pennsylvania Polka.”
Big bands and jazz orchestras originated during the early 1910s and dominated jazz in the early 1940s when swing was most popular.
“For the Wellsboro performance, we are putting together big band jazz classics from the swing era, such as music by the Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Glenn Miller orchestras,” said Bill Denson, one of the group’s founders. We willplay holiday tunes from the 1940s, too,” he said. Among them are: “Let It Snow”, “Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.”
“Near the end of 2019, three of us – Sherman Curry, Leon Golder and I – had decided to form a jazz big band,” said Denson. “We knew there were a lot of good jazz musicians in this area who liked to play big band music but not many bands were doingit,” said Denson.
“I was a member of Rick Doganiero’s X-Ray Big Band based in Wellsboro from 2009 to 2015 so I knew Rick as well as Don Schauer of Westfield and Brian Loher of Mansfield who were also in Rick’s band,” Denson said.
Doganiero founded the X-Ray Big Band in 2002. After several key members moved away, it became impossible for the band to continue.
The X-Ray Big Band played its last concert in February of 2016.
The Starliters Big Band had only held two or three rehearsals by March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shut everythingdown across the U.S.
“When things opened back up and we were able to book gigs for the first time this year, Sherman had passed away. We began rehearsing again in January,” said Denson.
“Our two vocalists, husband and wife CoIIeen and Gary SchrickeI sang with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the 1980s and 1990s,” Denson said. He noted that even though Miller, a major in the Army Air Force, had died on Dec. 15, 1944, his orchestra continued to perform and still does to this day.
In just four years, from 1939 to 1942, Miller scored 16 number one records and 69 top 10 hits. That is more than Elvis Presley (40) and the Beatles (33) attained during their careers. “We will be playing nine of those Miller songs in Wellsboro,” said Denson.
The Starliters’ two singers, 16 musicians and conductor Tom Kowalik will perform in Wellsboro, 19 in all. “Three of our 16 instrumentalists are from Tioga County, Pa. and 13 are from the Canandaigua, Corning, Elmira and Rochester areas in New York,” Denson said.
They are: Mindy Tortolon and Mary Olson on alto sax, Cindy Tag and Ken Salisbury on tenor sax and Rick Doganiero on baritone sax; Jim Kittleson, Julie Sutherland, Leon Golder and Joel Hawkins on trombone; Bill Denson,
Don Schauer, Brian Loher and Mike Schmidlin on trumpet; and Maria Neale at the piano, Dale Palmatier on drums and Ted Goldwin on electric bass. For this show, Neale is playing piano for John Weldy who is unable to attend. Sitting in for Neale on tenor sax is Ken Salisbury.
For more information about this free concert, call the Deane Center at (570) 724-6220.
Writing: Diane Eaton