Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Recycling Musical Harmony Orchestra Enjoys Vintage Sounds

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Recycling Musical Harmony Orchestra Enjoys Vintage Sounds

Article excerpt

It's surprising how many things can be recycled.

Talent, for example.

One group of Jacksonville area old-timers claim they're recycling their musical abilities, so they call themselves The Recycles Orchestra. The group has a roster of 36, playing everything from the piano, strings, woodwinds and saxophones to trumpets, trombones, tubas, bells and drums to re-create the toe-tapping big band dance and swing music of yesteryear.

The uniformed orchestra plays mainly at area schools and senior centers. They play so many elementary schools that they have worked up a special program just for school children -- a program that's a bit heavy on crowd-pleasing audience-participation.

The orchestra performs free, taking its recycled talents to anyone with sufficient space and an audience. Many of the big band and swing tunes have tempos and arrangements that would challenge even young musicians. But the Recycles Orchestra is undaunted, even though many of its members are in their 80s.

For example, the group's pianist, Bee Davis, is 84 and still performs regularly at her church three Saturday nights a month and with the Recycles Orchestra.

"If, when I was 20, anyone had told me I'd still be doing this I wouldn't have believed it," Davis said. "But I just love it so. There's just something about the vintage music that people respond to. And all you have to do is hear someone in the crowd say, 'Boy, now that's really something' and you could go on playing forever."

Crawford Anderson, who plays baritone horn and books the band, said Davis is "probably the best musician in the group." For years she fronted a band called Bee Haven and Her Gentlemen of Swing.

As a pianist, Davis continued to play and practice her instrument all her life. Anderson, 79, is more typical of the group. He played trumpet in the University of Georgia band, but put down his horn after a Georgia-Alabama football game in 1942 and didn't touch it again for about three decades.

But when he retired after an engineering career, the pulled out his horn, pursed his lips and began to practice, eventually regaining his musical chops to the point where he joined the Recycles in 1987. …

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