By Janice Burdon
O.K, I admit that I’m a sucker for big band music! Even though I’m only 46, there is something special that comes over me when I hear songs like, ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’, and ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000’. My parents used to play these songs and as a child, I would pretend that I was a starlet on Broadway dancing before a cheering audience. While all my friends were listening to the latest tunes, I’d be there swinging away to the old big band tunes like ‘In the Mood’ and ‘Jump, Jive and Wail’. So when Joan McCambridge Starr emailed me about her 84-year-old father who plays in the Big Band Club Orchestra, I jumped on the story.
Malcolm James McCambridge is the eldest of eight Irish siblings who grew up in Montreal in the 1930’s. Back then, money was tight and people couldn’t afford to go out so it wasn’t unheard of for children to learn to play one or more instruments. Malcolm is a self-taught musician who can play the spoons, clarinet, three saxophones, piano, piccolo and flute. He would entertain friends and family for hours using these instruments and over the years, this engineer developed such a passion for it that he actually plays in four bands: the Royal Canadian 306 Band with Pipe and Drums, the Big Band Club, Harmonie de Lachine and the Kirkland City Band. Malcolm is a go-getter who not only played on several occasions in the St. Patrick’s Day parade with the Donnacona Navy Band but also played with the Canadian Grenadier Guards back in the days when the Montreal Alouettes had a marching band! Why just this past summer at the tender age of 84, he performed in 26 outdoor concerts! He’s one swinging dude!
Malcolm’s passionate mission, along with most of his 80-year-old musician friends, is to keep big band music alive. This music is not only for older people who take a step back in time but also for the younger generation to be exposed to the good old tunes from the past. At it now for 50 years, Malcolm plays in the Big Band Club Orchestra, which hosts a fundraiser night where 17 musicians perform songs from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Guests will enjoy songs from artists like Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and many others. Dancers can practise their moves on the dance floor to the Polka, Waltz, Samba, Salsa, Cha Cha and the Swing. Singer Micheline Rider will ‘wow’ guests with her voice as she sings in five different languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. This is a night not to be missed!
Joan McCambridge Starr told me how one year, she cruised all the Arthur Murray Dance schools inviting them to come and show appreciation for the music by making it come alive with their dancing! Luckily, the owners of the downtown Arthur Murray School graced the audience with their performance on the dance floor. “For many of the members in the band, it is something they look forward to. It is their ‘raison d’etre’ because they take pride in their contribution to the city and all the people that have enjoyed their dances over the many years,” explains Joan. “These boys represent life, energy and nostalgia and will definitely create music that will move you!” The Big Band Club Orchestra extends a hand of welcome to all music and dance enthusiasts, young and old, to take part in this evening of fun and reminiscing.
This year, the fundraiser hosted by the Big Band Club Orchestra will be donating to the Foundation du centre Hospitalier des Laurentides, which is a small regional hospital in the Laurentians that offers palliative care to those living in the area. It is a wonderful facility staffed by dedicated people who also live in the region. The fundraiser event will take place on Friday, November 29 at 8 p.m. at Sarto Desnoyers: 1335 Lakeshore Blvd in Dorval. Tickets are 30$. For more info, please contact Joan at 514-620-8770 or 514-806-7545.
Janice Burdon is a very passionate fitness instructor/storyteller. For more info on what she offers, check out her website at www.ultimatemotionfitness.ca
Do you have a story to share? What are you waiting for? Send it to Janice at email@example.com