Blue Horizon Jazz Band at Primavera September 1, 2016

6-pc Trad Jazz Band, no piano

Stan McDonald’s Blue Horizon Jazz Band

Stan McDonald soprano sax, Phil Person trumpet, Gerry Gagnon trombone, Jack Soref guitar, Stu Gunn double bass, Rich Malcolm drums

The Blue Horizon Jazz Band played uplifting and foot-tapping Traditional Jazz Thursday night at Primavera Ristaurant, with Stan and Phil taking turns on the melody or improvising around it, Gerry’s smooth (or growling) trombone, Jack’s marvelous gypsy guitar, Stu’s artful string bass supporting Rich’s one-beat drum-rolls behind the fine solos.

They played many of our favorite tunes:
Set 1
I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me
Georgia On My Mind
Blue Turning Gray Over You
My Gal Sal

Set 2
Some Sweet Day
Bechet’s Fantasy
Spreading Joy
Lotus Blossom
Out of Nowhere
All By Myself in the Morning

Set 3
Dear Old Southland
When I Leave The World Behind
I Remember When
After You’ve Gone
Le Marchand de Poisson

Stan on sop sax

Stan McDonald

Phil on trumpet

Phil Person

Gerry on trombone

Gerry Gagnon

Stu on acoustic string bass

Stu Gunn

Rich on Trad Jazz drum set

Rich Malcolm

Jack on same guitar that Django used

Jack Soref

both leaning back playing their instruments

Stan McDonald and Phil Person

The Blue Horizon Jazz Band will return on the next first Thursday of the month, October 6th.

Thank you Stan and Ellen McDonald for keeping this art form alive!

Blue Horizon Jazz Band with Phil Person at Primavera August 6, 2015

Blue Horizon Jazz Band

Blue Horizon Jazz Band: Dave Didriksen, Stu Gunn, Gerry Gagnon, Phil Person, Jack Soref, Leader Stan McDonald

The Blue Horizon Jazz Band had a perfect mix of musicians this Thursday at Primavera with Phil Person leading on trumpet and Jack Soref on guitar.  Phil brought along his sense of humor, tossing quips as they played, and everyone had fun.   The whole band played a memorable, hard-driving performance!

The combined talents of the front line sharing ideas enlivened the evening.

trombone, trmpet, clarinet, string bass in back

Front Line

Phil Person, white hair, pulled back in long tail, with muted trumpet

Phil Person



Phil Person is leader of the Phil Person Sextet, Quintet, and Quartet, and teaches all levels of Ear Training at Berklee.  In the summertime, he teaches classes of teens.  He kept this evening light with his good humor, adding jokes for the musicians.  They obviously enjoyed playing together, and it reflected on the audience.



They kicked it in with ensemble playing I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me.   What Is This Thing Called Love?

Gerry Gagnon is a ? on that trombone.

Gerry Gagnon is a intense on that trombone.




All by Myself in The Evening – guitar played front line solo, Stan singing, tune has a nice bounce, with Gerry playing killer muted trombone!



Soref with Django style guitar

Jack Soref on domed guitar



Soref’s guitar played rhythm and also became part of the front line.   Jack soloed on It Had To Be You, playing  gypsy flavored ‘jazz manouche’ with swing articulation.

Note the Selmer guitar favored by Django Reinhardt.  The top of the guitar is gently arched or domed—a feature achieved by bending a flat piece of wood rather than by the violin-style carving used in archtop guitars.

Jack brings an added flair to the band.


Found A New Baby – Stan plays the verse on soprano sax,  I Would Do Anything For You, Baby Ain’t I Good To You –  great trumpet, clarinet comping, fine string bass behind them.


Dave with big smile on gold colored Ludwig drums

Dave Didriksen



Rose of the Rio Grande started with energized ensemble with Dave’s great timekeeping skills behind them.   Dave Didriksen plays great Traditional Jazz, playing hi hat softly behind solos, brushes on snare drum.  He lets the soloists shine.  He let loose on one of the tunes showing he can romp with the best of them!



They played My Gal Sal in in marvelous  fluid rhythm. They recalled that on the Jacky Gleason show, Gleason would be found wiping down the bar, singing the end of “My Gal, Sal” in his wonderful howl.

Stu concentrating on bass, hands just a blurr

Stu Gunn



Stu’s magical string bass took the intro to W. C. Handy’s Ole Miss.  Stu plays many styles of string bass, listening carefully, playing just the right cords.

Phil took the lead on trumpet with beautifully placed phrases, with Stan comping on soprano sax. Marvelous!  Stan sang the vocal.  Jack played a dazzling Django guitar solo.



Stan on soprano sax

Stan McDonald


Sidney Bechet’s Le Marchand de Poisson started with a 4-bar rhythm Habanera intro, Dave’s foot heavy on bass drum.   Phil wasn’t familiar with it so Stan took the lead and played a fabulous first chorus on sop sax.  Phil picked it up quickly.   They played a fantastic Habanera ending with horns stinger taking it out.





Stan’s sax took a wild intro into Wild Man Blues, with two bar breaks on solos, Phil playing wa wa trumpet.  Soref’s guitar began a wild finale, China Boy.

6-pc Dixieland band

Fine musicians shared flow of ideas, playing in sync.  It was a fine evening.

These fine musicians  combined talents to play New Orleans old time jazz with new time energy and the fans took part with foot-tapping and head-nodding.  The Jazz was fabulous, and we all had a good time!

Bill Reynolds’ Back Bay Ramblers at Primavera Ristorante, April 9, 2015

7 pc trad jazz band, with guitar and 2 reeds

Bill Reynolds’ Back Back Ramblers

Mike Peipman trumpet, John Clark clarinet/alto, tenor, and baritone sax, Billy Novick clarinet/alto sax, Dan Gabel Trombone, Scott Philbrick guitar,  Herb Gardner keyboard, Stu Gunn tuba/string bass, Nancy McGhee vocals, Bill Reynolds leader/drums.

Back Bay Ramblers are the result of the late Ed Reynolds dream.  He created a great Traditional Jazz Band in the 1980’s that would record the rarely heard tunes of the 1920’s.  Ed passed in 2014 at age 90.  (More about Ed and his band below.)

His son, drummer Bill Reynolds, promised him he would continue the Back Bay Ramblers.   Ed would be proud of the band that Bill has meticulously created; it is absolutely outstanding!!  (He added tuxedos for class par excellence.)  Most of these talented musicians lead bands of their own.  This band uses structured arrangements, as did the larger earlier bands.

In New Orleans Traditional Jazz Bands were all improvisation, with emphasis on musicians’ solos.  But as the music spread northward in the 20’s and 30’s, the bands grew larger to play in bigger rooms around the country, in restaurants and hotels in Chicago, Detroit.  Their music became Hot Tunes, they played to larger dancing crowds.  This obviously made written arrangements necessary, with tight sections playing in syncopation.  The music was written and arranged so they could play together, sometimes on the same note, sometimes in harmony.  It’s a balance of simplicity and complexity.

Tonight’s Back Bay Ramblers began with a tom-tom drum beat intro to Dream Sweetheart, words and music by Bud Green, 1932.  Bill Reynolds has made this their theme song.

pretty and talented blonde vocalist

Nancy McGhee


They continued with Daddy, Won’t You Please Come Home, introducing the lovely and talented Nancy McGhee (who happens to be Bill’s cousin).
She is a classically trained vocalist. She graduated from Berklee and then went to the New England Conservaory.  She is currently choral director at Lawrence High School


She continued with a tune written by Walter Donaldson and sung by The Boswell Sisters  in 1931, An Evening in Caroline.   It starts slowly with two clarinets, backed by guitar, then the brass comes in and it jumps up into two-beat barn burner!

Dan Gabel trombone, Mike Peipman trumpet, Bill Reynolds drums

Dan Gabel trombone, Mike Peipman trumpet, Bill Reynolds drums

Structured arrangements mean many rehearsals.  Billy Novick and John Clark were familiar with the Back Bay Ramblers Book, but Dan and Mike were not.  This was especially difficult for Mike, who was home in Australia at the time they were rehearsing and missed all but the last full band rehearsal.  Mike and Dan played spectacular solos, and representing the brass section of a big band, they nailed it!

1929 Little by Little, four piece front line, nice exchange between Billy on clarinet and Scott’s guitar.  A great Tiny Parham tune, Congo Love Song, played by two mellow alto saxes, and a vivid Congo drum beat.

Nancy was back with  Top of The Town a 1937 Jimmy McHugh tune made for the movie of the same name.  McHugh was a Boston native.  His songs had an infectiously swinging quality that instantly endeared them to the listener.  Perfect for Nancy.

The Ramblers used arrangements from various people.  Cho King, a tune by Sonny Clay was arranged by Robin Verdier.

Scott on guitar

Scott Philbrick

The 1919 Alcoholic Blues was written by Edward Laska with music by  Albert  Von Tilzer.  (Tilzer also wrote Take Me Out To The Ball Game in 1908.)

Some of these tunes the Ramblers played were written for guitar, others for banjo. Scott and Stu stayed in sync.  Scott switched between guitar and banjo.  When Stu Gunn played string bass, Scott played guitar.  When he played tuba, Scott played banjo.

Scott is  like vanilla extract in a cake; you can’t taste it when it’s there, but you know when it’s left out.


Stu on string bass

Marvelous bass man, Stu Gunn




Stalwart Stu Gunn instinctively moves from string bass to tuba, playing chords that maintain that very essential Traditional Jazz beat.

When he isn’t playing in a Jazz Band, you’ll find him playing classical music in several local symphonies.





Nancy returned with I Have to Have You, backed by soft trumpet; and one of Bill’s favorites, a Bob Connors arrangement, That Wonderful Something (is Love).

For those who don’t know Bob Connors, he led a marvelous band in the 1970’s, The Yankee Rhythm Kings; they excelled at Lu Watters two-beat California jazz. Bob was the original leader of The Back Bay Ramblers.  Their book has 121 arrangements; Connors wrote 91 of them.

He and his wife now live in Florida.  He’s retired from music, but keeps busy restoring archived movies and silent films.  If you’re interested in movie history, he has a vast collection of rare films that you won’t find anywhere else.

A Bennie Moten tune, That Too, Do had audience participation and everyone in the band responding “Yeah” and “Right”; another Bob Connors arrangement.

Herb at keyboard

Herb Gardner


Herb Gardner was invaluable, transitioning the musicians from one section to another and offering just the right chords behind soloists.

He’s been the pianist-in-residence here at Primavera, playing with numerous bands on piano, trombone and vocals.



Mike on trumpet

Mike Peipman is originally from Australia


Bill did the tom tom drum intro to their newest tune – 1951 – the Australian Nullabor.  Robin Verdier’s Monte Carlo Jazz Ensemble plays this all the time.

Mike says it means ‘flat plain with no trees’ –  “null arbor”?   It may have come from the Australian aborigines, with heavy drum accents.




Bill on drums

Bill Reynolds, leader


Bill’s drum continued the beat into ‘Leven Thirty Saturday Night.  This was a Frank Powers arrangement – he was a reed player from Chicago who did many arrangements for Ed’s band.

It is also the name of one of the albums that Ed Reynold’s original Back Bay Ramblers recorded for Bob Erdo’s Stomp Off Records. Some are still available. (See below)  All of the tunes played today came from these CDs.


Vocalist singing and pointing at the audience

Nancy is crazy about her man.


Nancy was back for Dreaming About My Man.  She really feels the words and puts heart and soul into her singing.

Fat’s Waller’s Concentrating on You was recorded by Hunter’s Serenaders, a territory band from Omaha, Nebraska.

Ed Reynolds liked territory bands and often used some of their tunes.


Ridin’ but Walkin’, a 1929 Fats Waller tune was played at The Cotton Club.  The Ramblers did it justice. It brought out Clark’s tenor sax – nice, Billy on clarinet with drum beat tapping on the choke cymbal, Mike on muted trumpet.    Short but in the groove!

The River and Me was recorded by the Absolut Duke Ellington, who played it every night at the Cotton Club.  It’s a fabulous swinging tune.  The Ramblers used the Frank Powers arrangement. Trombone, trumpet, clarinet and tenor sax, Stu Gunn pushing them on string bass, all the musicians pushed the boundaries with some profound, imaginative swinging!  They raised goose bumps!

Right Kind of Man was sung by Ruth Etting in 1929.  Nancy’s fine vocal was followed by two alto saxes taking 32 bars in multi-dimensional harmony.  Billy Novick and John Clark are always pushing music forward, expanding on it.

Back to instrumentals, Vipers’ Drag is a 1930 Fats Waller tune made popular by Cab Calloway.

Jungle Blues was arranged by Billy Novick.  He and Bill Reynolds have been ‘partners in crime’ for over 30 years.  Two clarinets harmonizing backed by steady drum beat.

Bill on alto, John on bari sax

Dynamite! Billy Novick and John Clark on various reeds


Nancy with arms outstretched

Nancy feels so blue!



Nancy was back with Nobody Cares, backed only by Herb Gardner on piano.  She’s so blue, you can absolutely feel it!



Ed would definitely be proud of this band; it is absolutely outstanding! Their passion for this music is obvious.  Hot Dance Music at its best!!   We hope to hear more from them really soon.

Meantime, you can still get the fine music.  Bill still has several CDs from Ed’s band.

Red Hot Band
Cuttin’ Up
‘Leven Thirty Saturday Night (4 left)
My Mom is in Town (1 left)
… also LPs and Cassettes of Boston Shuffle

Get in touch with Bill Reynolds at for any of these.

*             *             *              *             *            *              *

Ed Reynolds beaming with arms folded across his chest.

Ed Reynolds

Ed Reynolds, New England’s premier Jazz Historian and collector of Traditional Jazz records, deftly drew rarely heard traditional jazz ditties from 1925 to 1931 for his outstanding jazz musicians from our area and New York City.
Karen Cameron is originally from North Dakota.  She was with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, and has sung with the Artie Shaw Band and other commemorative big bands around the country.

These are Ed Reynold’s Back Bay Ramblers 2001 at the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival.  This band played some of the finest 1920’s period music at the festival.  This is not swing – this is Traditional Jazz-Hot Dance Music at its best!
The musicians standing on a descending staircase, some in front

Blue Horizon Jazz Band at Primavera Ritorante March 5, 2015

Blue Horizon Jazz Band with Jack Soref and Mike Peipman

Blue Horizon Jazz Band with Jack Soref, Mike Peipman, and Dave Didriksen

Stan McDonald soprano sax/vocals, Mike Peipman trumpet, Gerry Gagnon trombone, Jack Soref guitar, Stu Gunn string bass, Dave Didriksen drums.

Stan McDonald was listed as one of the top five soprano saxophone players in the world in a 1985 Mississippi Rag poll. He has played with the likes of Ralph SuttonTommy BenfordBuzzy DrootinRoss PetotSammy PriceBenny WatersDoc CheathamDick WetmoreMarty Grosz and Scott Hamilton.

Stan sitting, playing soprano sax

Stan McDonald, soprano sax

Stan was interviewed by Dave Radlauer on Jazz Rhythm, where the Bechet-style soprano saxophone master recalled his half-century musical career.   The set of 3 one-hour programs are available here

McDonald always picks the cream of the crop musicians from this area for his Blue Horizon Jazz Band; tonight was no exception.

Mike grimacing and blowing trumpet

Mike Peipman raises the roof with West End Blues

Mike Peipman’s fiery  trumpet  can be delicate and powerful.  Mike generally plays modern, contemporary jazz, but displayed his aptitude for classic jazz with an impeccable rendition of  Louis Armstrong’s West End Blues.  Spectacular!

Combining the careers of lead trumpet player and Jazz soloist, he has toured with numerous groups such as the Artie Shaw Orchestra and the Woody Herman Orchestra.



trombone in front, sb in back

Gerry Gagnon trombone, Stu Gunn string bass

Gerry Gagnon, veteran BHJB member, anchored the band tonight with his fabulous ‘Jack Teagarden’ trombone.  Gerry normally plays with the Boilermaker Jazz Band, all over the U.S. Canada and Europe.

Stu Gunn has a masters degree from the Boston Conservatory.  He covers the total range of music from classical to theater to jazz on both tuba and string bass.  We remember him with Bob Connor’s Yankee Rhythm Kings.  Now he’s with the Boston Symphony and Cape Cod Symphony Orchestras. His solid bass line keeps him on-call with many Trad Jazz bands.



Dave on drums

Dave Didriksen


Dave Didriksen filled in for Steve Taddeo with some solid drumming that kept the band on time; essential in Traditional Jazz.

He was followed by the band playing organ-type chorus on Baby, Ain’t I Good To You.  Nice!

Dave is drummer for the Wolverine Jazz Band and drummer and Manager for Swing Times Five.
He also owns Willow Books in Acton MA.


Full view of Mollie with scarf down to her knees and big fur hat almost covering her face

Mollie Malone




Chanteuse Mollie Malone was in the audience and stepped up for a fine vocal on Django’s Nuage, in French, backed by Stu Gunn, steadfast on string bass and Stan’s soprano sax




Jack Soref plays high quality Jazz, Gypsy Swing.  He introduced many of the tunes on guitar. His interpretation of Django Reinhardt’s romantic Russian tune, Ochi chyornye  (Dark Eyes) even surprised the members of the band, and had everyone on the edge of their seats.  Jack plays regularly with the Gypsy Swing Band AmeranoucheJack Soref plays Gypsy Jazz!

We missed Ross Petot’s piano, keeping it all together.  But Ross teaches on Thursday evenings, so many bands have had to improvise.

The Blue Horizon Jazz Band will be at Primavera Ristorante on the first Thursday of every month; next will be April 2nd, 7pm.
Our grateful THANKS to Ellen McDonald, who has patiently kept these Traditional Jazz Bands playing LIVE JAZZ for over 20 years!

We hope to see you here next month?

Blue Horizon Jazz Band’s first 2014 Fall Session at the Sherborn Inn

6-pc Trad Jazz Band, no banjo

All the Blue Horizon Jazz Band ‘regulars’ were back!!

This was a special evening with no summer substitutes; all the Blue Horizon ‘regulars’  were back with their powerful brass front line.

trumpet and soprano sax on either side of string bass

Jeff Stout and leader Stan McDonald make a powerful team.  Stu Gunn’s steady bass gives them freedom to fly!

They began with All By Myself, Stan taking the first of many vocals.  Jeff’s trumpet was crystal clear on Roaming, Ross’s piano picking up riffs.  Their repertoire consisted of tunes from the 20’s to the 40’s, strongly based on melody. They have a genuine passion and feel for this music: Tishumingo, Bechet’s Lastic, Roses of Picardie, Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band.  Rosetta was hard-charging and wild!  Honky Tonk Town had Stu weaving from side to side with the beat.

muted trombone and drum



The front line is bolstered by the deep rich tone of Gerry Gagnon’s trombone.


Stan played a forceful soprano sax solo on Save It Pretty Mama.   He played low register clarinet on a rhythmic Wild Man Blues, with every instrument taking spontaneous, off the cuff solos on its many breaks.

Steve Taddeo on Slingerland drums



I Would Do Most Anything For You, Taddeo maintained a resourceful Traditional Jazz beat on his Swingerland drums all evening with the use of brushes,wood block, bell, choke cymbal and pinging the hi hat stand.




Ross Petot was featured with the rhythm section on You Can’t Take That Away From Me, keeping the music fresh by using his magical left hand as a walking bass line instead of his famous stride piano.   Marvelous!

Ross Petot on baby grand

Ross Petot  strayed  from his famous stride piano to keep the music fresh.

Trumpet and sax were perfectly synchronized on  When I Leave The World Behind, undergirded by Steve’s drums and Stu’s pulsating string bass.

The band has had fine substitutes like Paul Monat cornet and John Kafalas trombone over the summer (Gerry moved to impressive tuba).   But it was refreshing to have the whole band back for the Fall Season.  They sent us home with a gentle, sweet, Rose of San Antone.

The Blue Horizon Jazz Band is in its 19th year at the Sherborn Inn.  They’ll all be back, along with our New England Fall Foliage on October 21st.  Take a nice ride and join us!