Magnolia Jazz

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Feels Like Coming Home — A Tip for Staying on Target

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.

“Playing here today feels like coming home.”

Magnolia Jazz Band in Sunnyvale, 2013I said that one day a few months ago. The band was entertaining members of the South Bay Traditional Jazz Society on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Several hours of “the good old good ones”. Lots of dancing, singing, and lively conversations with old friends.

Lots of smiles and feet tapping. Even the musicians. See?

I’d joined that society many years ago.  All afternoon I kept remembering the first few times I visited them.  It was great recalling those exciting times.

“You know that old song, too?”  “One of my favorites.” “Where else around here can we listen to music like this?”

You know, I like to think back that way.  Enjoyable and useful.  We often hear that we can’t understand where we are, or where we’re heading, unless we understand where we’ve been.

I suspect that’s correct, because this afternoon showed me in spades what I began to realize on my first few visits:  I love entertaining people. Playing music to make them happy.

It was true back in 1974, and it’s still true today.  The afternoon turned out exactly as I’d expected, when I wrote this little article for the afternoon’s program.

Playing Here Today Feels Like Coming Home.

Over the years, the Magnolia Jazz Band has ranged from a hot 9-man dance band to a strolling trio. It’s a wonderful career, attending a party almost every day.

And it all began here — at the South Bay Traditional Jazz Society.

Without enthusiastic local jazz clubs like this, and all of you wonderful fans, we might still be holding rehearsals in the garage, just dreaming of all the fun we’ve had.

I joined SBTJS in the fall of 1973, just a few weeks after moving to Palo Alto from Buffalo, NY.

How did I find you? A tip from a friend who knew I loved traditional jazz. Playing and listening.

Friends help friends. That pretty much describes my musical career since then.

Over the next few years I became friends with many like-minded musicians at the SBTJS meetings. Today I’m working with Gary, Brian, and Ken, all of whom I met in jam sessions back in 1974.

At the end of 1974, a Milpitas restaurant owner heard me in a jam session and asked me to bring a band to entertain his customers. So I gathered a few of these friends, rehearsed a few tunes, and I called the group the Magnolia Jazz Band.

We played there every Friday & Saturday for six weeks. The place closed shortly afterward, but it wasn’t our fault!

But what a start!

Occasionally groups of these friends continued working together entertaining at casual parties, picnics, and pizza parlors. In 1976 we were honored to represent the SBTJS at one of the first Sacramento Jazz Jubilees.

I began devoting more time to managing the band and booking new engagements. The more we worked, the more I liked it.  At the time, I was a graduate student at Stanford University, but as the band prospered, my days there were numbered.

Since then, we’ve toured the US twice, played at festivals & concerts, recorded 7 LPs, and created a great reputation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now as 2013 nears the end, we’ve been entertaining at weddings, parties, and business receptions for nearly 39 years.

That’s a lot of practicing, and I hope you’ll enjoy today’s results.

Well, it was a terrific afternoon on several levels.  For one, I helped lots of people enjoy a wonderful time with their favorite music.  Just as important, I had a chance to confirm that I’m still on target for entertaining people with my music.

What are YOU working on?  It doesn’t hurt to reconfirm that whatever you’re doing feels right — “feels like coming home”.

So here’s a tip:  Whatever you may be working on, help your own plans stay on target.  Think back to your original goal from time to time.  Changes should be deliberate, not accidental.

Whether you’re planning wedding music, or a last-minute party, or your life’s goals, or anything else, beware letting today’s urgencies distract you from what’s truly important.  Pause occasionally to check that your “day-to-day” activity still fulfills your long-term ambition.  Be sure every big step you take “feels like coming home”.


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Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

Posted by on January 19, 2014.

Categories: My Musical Career

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