“The Greatest Music of the Greatest Generation”
Kerrville, Texas — It has been said that music is the soundtrack or our lives. Americans who lived through those amazing years just before and during the Second World War were fortified by some of the most wonderful and romantic popular music ever written. They were energized by the sounds of the big bands, and danced their cares away to swing classics like Glenn Miller’s “String of Pearls” and Count Basie’s “One O’clock Jump”. Many a couple’s tender goodbyes were spoken at the railroad station with the real or imagined strains of poignant ballads like Tommy Dorsey’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” pumping emotionally in the background. Men AND women marched off to defend their homes and families, stepping out smartly to the beat of a different drummer…a big band drummer.
The music of the Big Bands of the Fabulous 1940s…Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and more…lives on, and is being expertly recreated for today’s audiences of all ages by the Sentimental Journey Orchestra.
The classic swing-era big band that hails from Kerrville, Texas has been called the “best thing to come out of the Hill Country since the deer blind and the inner tube” by San Antonio Express News columnist Roy Bragg. If it’s any indication, the “SJO” has been performing for sellout crowds throughout Central and South Texas since it’s formation.
Under the leadership of trombonist-pianist-arranger Ted Conerly, the SJO goes about their craft of bringing the classic era of swing music to modern audiences. Their repertoire reads like an anthology of the big bands’ greatest hits, many painstakingly recreated from original scores and recordings, and rehearsed by a talented group of musicians and soloists with diverse backgrounds. Conerly, for instance, is a former banker who once performed with Woody Herman and Clyde McCoy. Tenor sax lead John Magaldi was a sideman in the bands of Benny Goodman, Tex Beneke and more. Young trumpet soloist Curtis Calderon toured with the modern-day Glenn Miller and Russ Morgan bands. Trumpeter-manager Vern Hatch is a retired airline pilot. The clarinet stylings of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman are brought to life by former music educator and San Antonio jazz personality Phil Armstrong ( who does uncanny “Louis Armstrong” vocals as well), and so it goes.
An SJO performance is a visual, as well as a musical experience. The band and it’s tall, bespectacled, trombone-playing leader frequently perform wearing WWII US Army Air Force uniforms as a tribute to that generation of Americans, and to honor the famous USAAF band of Glenn Miller. Even the bandstands used on those occasions are identical to those used in England by the Miller band in 1944. A WWII “hangar dance” featuring the SJO belting out classic hits like Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol”, and “In the Mood” from under the nose of an authentic B-17 flying fortress is the ultimate nostalgia experience. Brightly polished horns flash through the air while the band tears through one of it’s high-flying, flag-waving, patriotic favorites like “Bugle Call Rag”. You expect the “Andrews Sisters” or Frances Langford to appear at any moment (and sometimes they do, in the form of the SJO’s talented female vocalists).
The SJO has been featured in Texas Highways Magazine, as well as other area feature publications. They have appeared on San Antonio public television station, and are regularly featured by KLUP radio AM-903’s Big Band Sunday Nights. They have been featured on different occasions by Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Admiral Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War for their realistic interpretation of the music of the WWII era, and were recently accorded the honor of performing for former President George Bush at dedication ceremonies for the new George Bush Gallery of the Pacific War. They stage authentic WWII hangar dances for the Confederate ( now Commemorative) Air Force such as the “Gathering of Memories” in San Marcos, where they entertained a crowd of 2,000 “under the nose” of a restored WWII bomber nicknamed…”Sentimental Journey”! The band was chosen by the Austin Symphony to herald in the year 2000 at their millennium celebration, and the band was recently given the honor of entertaining at the official mainland celebration of the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor for the National Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Association. Not just for “seasoned citizens”, the SJO has also headlined events for today’s new generation of exciting swing dancers.
The orchestra keeps a busy schedule of engagements both public and private during the year, and periodically hosts it’s own dances at both Kerrville’s YO Ranch Hotel and the Inn of the Hills Hotel and Conference Center. For more information, to be placed on SJO’s mailing list, or to book SJO please contact Ted Conerly at 830-895-1535 or submit our online information request form.