Artborne Magazine December 2016 - Page 54

First Contact Keeping Time by Charlie Griffin It’s Tuesday night at Orlando’s Marks Street Senior Recreation Center, and a small but enthusiastic collection of seniors are here to dance. At 7pm, nine couples are already on the dance floor and ready to go. The hall is dimly lit, with six of the nine ceiling fans illuminated and spinning above. There sits a thin, wooden platform overlaid on standard vinyl tile, which is flanked on three sides by large, unadorned banquet tables capable of accommodating five or six couples each. On the fourth side of the dance floor is Trumpet Blues: an 11–piece band founded over 25 years ago by trumpeter and now-retired mechanical engineer, Tony Pizzurro. The musicians come at this from many angles: for some of them this is the only public music-making they do all week because of non-musical day jobs, while for others it’s one fun gig amongst many. Faye Novick and Maurice Salamy, photo by Jason Fronczek The other trumpeter is Eric Wright, an Adjunct Professor of Humanities and History at Valencia College. John Babb, the baritone saxophonist, works for Charles Schwab and is also a real estate developer. I knew Melissa Davis as a yoga instructor at Warrior One on Corrine Drive in Audubon Park before I learned she plays second alto saxophone in the group. The singer, Barbara Jones, is an executive assistant at The Wyndham. Kurt Sterling, on tenor saxophone, does instrument repair and makes mouthpieces. They blend in seamlessly with the working musicians: the lead alto saxophonist Gerald Retner, bassist Larry Jacoby, trombonist Will Rogers, drummer Bill Cole, and Howard Herman—the pianist, composer, and frequent arranger for the band. Herman has created over a dozen arrangements for Trumpet Blues, including some original compositions. His contributions complement the more than two hundred songs the band has ready to go at any given moment. Meringues, rumbas, sambas, cha-chas, tangos, and foxtrots make up the majority of tunes requested of the band. Pizzurro consults with Jones and calls out tunes by their number so the musicians can locate them easily in their thick binders of sheet music, and the dancers come so regularly that they have some of the tune numbers memorized themselves. Most of the songs are understandably on the moderately paced side. Tony Pizzurro on trumpet, photo by Jason Fronczek I see grace, dignity, and playfulness as couples revolve past each other, occasionally offering greetings to each other as they rotate past. I engage a few couples in conversation as they take small breaks, with a lot of repeating ourselves to be heard over the band. 93 years old and still incredibly spry, John Ticen and his wife Clarice have been coming to Marks Street for 20 years. Joe grew up loving planes during the Great Depression in Indiana and served as a pilot in the Air Force, flying patrol and interception missions in Panama during World War II. Using the GI Bill after the war, Joe became an engineer and moved to Florida in 1957 to work for Martin, which would eventually become Lockheed Martin. He’d wanted to be a pilot his whole life, but the timing was wrong for him to become a commercial pilot. By the time that would have become a possibility, he was 53