VBB Members, December 2021
The Village Big Band: A Short History
In 1998, using a core of musicians from the recently disbanded Village Pops Orchestra, trumpeter Tom Hightower organized the Village Big Band. Joining Hightower as early directors were Al Dutt and Hal Thompson. Bill Morgan then led the band from 2003 through 2019, and John Leisenring kept us through the beginning of the pandemic. The current director is Jim Kelly.
The band replicates the instrumentation of the prominent dance/jazz bands of the 1930s-1960s. However, besides the classic “swing era” tunes made famous by such bands as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Count Basie, the band’s repertoire has expanded to include rock, a variety of Latin styles, a bit of country and “Christmas/Gospel jazz.”
The band has been heard in most concert and social venues in the Village, as well as appearances in Hot Springs at The Arlington Hotel, Pocket Theater, Quapaw Community Center, Garvan Woodlands Gardens, the Hot Springs Jazz Society and numerous churches in the area.