Back Bay Ramblers at Ken’s Steak House June 12, 2016

8 pc band with guitar

Bill Reynolds’ Back Bay Ramblers

Dan Gabel trombone, Bill Drake guitar, Mike Peipman trumpet, Bill Reynolds leader/drums, Billy Novick alto sax and clarinet, Stu Gunn tuba/string bass, John Clark clarinet, tenor and baritone sax,  Ross Petot piano, Nancy McGhee vocals.

Bill Reynolds has revivified his Dad’s band, The Back Bay Ramblers, playing hot dance and jazz from the 20’s and 30’s.  Four members remain from a previous band: Billy Novick and John Clark reeds, Ross Petot piano, and of course, Bill Reynolds drums.  Filling in some very big boots are Mike Peipman for Jon-Erik Kelso, who now plays every Sunday at the Ear Inn in NY; Dan Gabel for Bob Connors, who moved to Florida and is collecting old movies; Bill Drake guitar for Peter Bullis banjo who is Manager of the New Black Eagle Jazz Band; and Stu Gunn for Vince Giordano, who needs no explanation.

10 musicians on a staircase

Ed’s Back Bay Ramblers

They started with their theme song, Dream Sweetheart, and played many of Ed’s favorite songs and vocals, aptly sung by Nancy McGhee.

Nancy singing

Nancy McGhee

Nancy gave a strong, effervescent singing performance, beginning with Daddy, Won’t You Please Come Home.   Nancy is a graduate of Berklee and is Choral Director at Lawrence High School Performing Arts.  She sang songs of the Boswell Sisters, An Evening In Caroline, Eva Taylor’s 1937 Clarence Williams’ Top of The Town, Mildred Bailey’s  Commentating on You.  She also touched on Ed’s favorite vocalist, Annette Henshaw, with The Right Kind of Man.

The Band played Little By Little done by the Louisiana Rhythm Kings in 1929.   Tiny Parham’s dark, somber Congo Love Song, arranged by Bob Connors.   Cho King was arranged by pianist Robin Verdier.

Dan holds megaphone with left foot

Dan holds megaphone with left foot



Alcoholic Blues, 1929 by Doc Daugherty, Dan Gabel with a slow, moaning muted trombone.

Dan was featured on The River and Me, playing trombone into a 4-foot megaphone braced on his left foot.





He took the first chorus on Red McKenzie’s 1929 Hello Lola, done by the Mound City Blue Blowers.  It featured all the guys with many marvelous solos by the front line.

trombone, trumpet, alto sax, bari sax

Front Line, Dan Gabel, Mike Peipman, Billy Novick, John Clark


Mike on trumpet

Mike Peipman


The 1951 Nullabor was the most recent tune, an Australian Band jazz revival.   It probably means ‘null arbor’, or no trees;  a grassy plain, or desert?  No one knows for sure. Bill ended it with a pulsating tom-tom drum beat.

Mike Peipman is Australian. His crystal-clear trumpet led many of the tunes.


Riding But Walking – My Wonderful You, arranged by Steve Wright, the interaction between the saxes was mind boggling!

Billy Novick on alto sax, John Clark on baritone sax, Bill and Stu behind them

Billy Novick on alto sax, John Clark on baritone sax


Stu holding tuba with string bass beside him

Stu Gunn had big boots to fill!



Fat’s Waller’s Vipers Drag was a knockout! Virtuoso bassist Stu Gunn gives the band energy and drive.  He brought two instruments, string bass and tuba, excluding Vince’s bass sax.

A full time musician, Stu Gunn plays fine classical music in local symphonic orchestras, and is fantastic on Jazz and Blues.





Bill in black tux and bow tie, as are all members of the band.

Bill Drake on guitar




Bill Drake’s acoustic rhythm guitar is barely heard by the audience.  You can ‘feel’ him more than hear him, but he adds depth to the music that would definitely be missed!



couple in their early 90's dancing, and they're good!

John and Gisella really enjoy dancing!




John and Gisella Bruneccini couldn’t resist dancing!






Ross smiling at camera - Ross Never smiles when he's playing!

Ross Petot is renowned for playing stride piano.



Ross played a solo on Clarence Williams Longshoreman’s Blues, improvising but never straying far from the melody.  It was arranged by Billy who was on clarinet.

Shadows on The Swanee also had Ross’s fine piano.

Duke Ellington’s Red Hot Band was played by the Cotton Club Orchestra in 1927.




They closed with Joe Steele’s Top and Bottom, front line playing in staccato,   saxes interweaving, twining around each other.

Bill Reynolds closes his eyes and listens

Bill Reynolds closes his eyes and listens



Bill Reynolds has a passion for this music.  Ed Reynolds is looking down and smiling.

The Back Bay Ramblers brought a level of style and sophistication of jazz that is rarely heard today.  We would like to hear them more often!

Bill has many CD’s  of the various Back Bay Ramblers available for sale.



CD:  The original band’s first album was in 1986, with Scott Philbrick, Johnny Battis & Billy Novick (no trombone), Robin Verdier, Jimmy Mazzy, Stu Gunn and Bill Reynolds
Original band(Thank you for this, Steve Wright.  He and Bob Connors joined the band when Johnny Battis left.)



There will be no Sunday afternoon Jazz at Ken’s Steak House for the summer.  Stay tuned – we’ll definitely let you know when it’s back!