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Alamance Jazz band for hire near Burlington, North Carolina

OUR HISTORY

ALAMANCE JAZZ BAND
A Brief History
by
Bob Byrd, Co-Founder and Music Director

The Beginning

The idea of starting a local community jazz ensemble germinated during the mid-1980s when a few members of the Alamance Community Band, a traditional concert band and a member group of the Alamance County Arts Council (now Alamance Arts), during rehearsal breaks, talked about how much they enjoyed playing big band jazz in earlier times. Jeff Holland, then manager of the C.B. Ellis Music Company, and Bob Byrd, both saxophonists, were part of those discussions.

In the fall of 1987, Byrd was serving on the board of directors of the Arts Council, representing another member group, the Alamance Chorale. The board was planning the annual Beaux Arts Ball, a big fund- raising event, for the following March. The Ball’s planning committee chair reported having trouble finding an available dance orchestra in the big band style to fit the formal format of the event. Remembering those discussions during rehearsal breaks, Byrd, an experienced big band musician, piped up and suggested he would be interested in starting such a band. The board’s response was positive and immediate, suggesting the band could be another performing arts member group, operating under the Council’s non-profit legal structure, and offering a grant to help get it started.

Knowing he would need help, Byrd visited Holland at the music store soon after and they
agreed to organize the new entity together. They identified local musicians who could play this
style of music and divided up the list for each to call. The two then visited Mike Lewis, the jazz
head at Elon College (now Elon University), where Holland was an alumnus and played in the
Emanons, the college’s renown jazz orchestra. Lewis gladly offered rehearsal space and use of
the Emanons’ music library, as well as to play in the new band. The first rehearsal took place on December 3, 1987 (Byrd’s 39 th birthday) at the Elon Fine Arts Building; the band was born! Shortly thereafter, bylaws were written, officers were elected, and a name was chosen. The band’s first performance, for the Beaux Arts Ball on March 5, 1988 at the Alamance Country Club, was a big success.

The Model
Big Band Jazz is one of the truly American art forms. It grew out of the swing era of the 1920s
and 1930s, mostly as a commercial/entertainment enterprise. Today, it is emulated around the
world and is taught in most U.S. high schools and universities alongside of choral, concert band,
orchestral/symphonic and other types of music.

Many communities across North Carolina and the United States have “community” big bands or
jazz ensembles organized under the auspices of municipal parks and recreation departments,
community colleges, arts councils, or other organizations for the benefit of their communities.
Byrd was a member of one such band, the Lakeland Jazz Forum, part of Lakeland Community
College, Mentor, OH, before moving to North Carolina in 1975. The Alamance Jazz Band follows
this “community” model.


The Alamance Jazz Band uses the traditional big band format of four trumpets, four trombones,
five saxophones, a rhythm section, and vocalist. As a nonprofit entity, it exists to provide an
opportunity for area musicians to perform and refine their artistic jazz skills, as well as to
provide the community at large an opportunity to learn about and enjoy listening and dancing
to big band music. It is hoped that, as part of Alamance Arts, the band will continue in
perpetuity, helping Alamance Arts in carrying out its mission of making art a tangible presence
in the community.

Alamance Jazz Band Highlights Through The Years
The Alamance Jazz Band has proven to be a valuable community asset throughout its decades-
long history with its diverse and wide variety of performances and activities.

 

  • It has entertained audiences at many public events and festivals for many years:

o The annual Carousel Festival of the City of Burlington
o The annual Hospice Balloon Festival
o The Sunset Rhythms concert series at Burlington’s Historic Depot Amphitheatre
o The Musical Chairs concert series of Alamance Arts
o The annual Arts ‘Round The Square festival of Alamance Arts
o The annual Holiday Magic, A Dickens Christmas festival of the City of Burlington
o The annual Gibsonville “Groovin’ On The Green” event

  • It has collaborated with other arts organizations for joint performances:

o Alamance Chorale
o Alamance Civic Dance Company
o Gallery Players
o Elon University Theater Arts Department

  • It has been a resource for area high school students:

o  Several high school students have been members or substitute players of the
band, and some of those have gone on to be successful professional musicians.
o  The band has participated in joint performances with almost every local high
school.

 

  • ​It has provided joy to audiences in several area nursing homes, retirement communities, and churches.

  • It has served as a lab band for area musicians who have taken up composing and

     arranging for big bands. Many of the band’s arrangements are now originals.​

  • ​It has served as an outlet for dozens, perhaps a hundred or more area musicians to

    express themselves and enjoy performing this brand of art.​​​​​

  • ​It has helped raise funds for many local charitable organizations.

  • It professionally recorded three full-length albums and was featured on two additional
    albums with other local community groups.

  • It has been a resource for meeting the music needs for a variety of other public and
    private situations: 

o Weddings and Wedding Receptions
o Corporate and Professional Association Banquets and Parties
o Dance Clubs and Dinner Dances
o Jazz Festivals
o Holiday Events

Today, the Alamance Jazz Band rehearses most every Thursday evening at the City of
Burlington’s Broad Street Center. New members are welcome when openings occur or as
substitutes are needed.


For more information or to inquire about booking the band, contact
alamancejazzband@outlook.com.

Alamance Arts Council Member
Gallery

GALLERY

Alamance Jazz Band at Beaux Arts Ball, jazz band for hire
First gig with co-founders Bob Byrd (standing) and Jeff Holland (on Byrd’s right) at Beaux Arts Ball, March 1988
Jazz band for hire in North Carolina, North Carolina wedding band
Performing for a corporate holiday party, Winston-Salem, NC December 1989
Alamance Jazz band at the Alamance Balloon Festival, North Carolina jazz band
Alamance Balloon Festival, Burlington Airport, May, 1989
Jazz Band for hire for banquet in North Carolina
Performing for a National Awards Banquet, Greensboro, NC March 1990
Wedding jazz band for hire in North Carolina
Wedding Rehearsal Party, Alamance Country Club, October 1990
Alamance Jazz Band in Graham,  North Carolina
Arts ‘Round The Square, Graham, NC May 1990
Alamance Jazz Band from Alamance County, North Carolina
Jazz big band for events in North Carolina
Alamance Jazz Band featured in the news
Alamance Jazz Band, Burlington North Carolina
Alamance Jazz Band’s three full-length albums
Alamance Jazz Band at the Burlington Depot Ampitheater
Jazz band to hire for private events in Burlington North Carolina
AJB Sunset Rhythms Concert, Burlington Depot Amphitheater,
May 2009
AJB with Western Alamance High School Jazz Band, May, 2017
 Dancing to the Alamance Jazz Band, Burlington North Carolina
Dancing to the AJB, March 7, 2020, Burlington, NC
Alamance Jazz band in Gibsonville North Carolina
Groovin’ On The Green, Gibsonville, NC June 2023

LET'S WORK TOGETHER!

The Alamance Jazz Band has performed for hundreds of outdoor concerts, wedding receptions, and private events. Contact Us today to inquire about your event by filling out the form below, or by emailing us at AlamanceJazzBand@Outlook.com 

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