Naming Names

Peter BlaiseWay back in October, 2012, outgoing AKAA Board president Peter Blaise wrote a note for the membership. It was edited down to fit the December 2012 Bridge. Below is the full, unedited version.

Although I passed the AKAA President baton to Dave Edmunds almost three months ago, I wanted to express my thanks to all of you—AKAA members and friends as well as AKAA officers and board members—for allowing me to serve as your President. As for the AKAA board, the association is blessed to have such an exceptionally talented group of folks working hard to ensure the continuity of the AKAA as well as the current band. If I named names—and believe me, I thought about it!—I would need to name the entire AKAA board membership to thank them for their extraordinary commitment to the AKAA. I have been honored to play my small part in their work of the past seven years.

One name I will laud is that of my hero, Charlie Higgins. His zest for life and the love he has for the Auburn Knights are extremely palatable…and contagious! He is an amazing man. If you haven’t thanked him for his dedication to the Knights and his labor of love that is our annual reunion, please do so.

During this year’s AKAA reunion, I lost count of how many of you asked if I was glad my two-year term of President was over. The short answer is no. I’m going to really miss my involvement with the AKAA officers and board. I’m already checking the calendar to see when I’ll be able to throw my hat in the ring for another three-year term as a board member. Meanwhile, I’m really looking forward to July 2013 and our celebration of the 83rd birthday of the Auburn Knights Orchestra. Perhaps this year I’ll have time for a round of golf.

Long live the Auburn Knights! Peter Blaise

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Marion Evans Featured on

Jerry Phillips (AKO ’62-’66) sent this one in. It’s a very big feature on about Marion Evans (AKO ’51) that includes a lot of great biographical material and info about his work with Tony Bennett on his recent CD release, Duets II, previously mentioned on this website.

Here’s the link to the article: The Man Behind the Music

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2012 Reunion – So Many Pictures!

Below are links to Fredreica Speyer’s photos from the 2012 Reunion.

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Blow Warm Air: The 2013 Reunion Is July 18-20

Hopefully, everyone is warming up for the 83rd Anniversary AKAA Reunion scheduled for July 18-20, 2013. Below is a note (also in the May 2013 issue of The Bridge) from president Dave Edmunds. Under that are more reunion details. Though other posts are more recent, this one you’re reading will stay featured as the top post until after the 2013 reunion.


Dave EdmundsAs the monkey said when he got his tail caught in the lawn mower, “it won’t be long now!”

Our reunion is just around the corner and is primed to be one of our best! The forever young Charlie Higgins is still working his event-planning magic. He has kept our rates low and amenities high. And he takes special care of our “Ladies.” I’m just sayin’!

As we continue to grow and change, Jay Owen has stepped up to lead the 50’s Band, and I’m confident he will keep providing his great arrangements to all the bands. Also, John Norton and Fritz Siler are doing some great work with scholarships and forging a closer relationship with Auburn University. And we have been privileged the last couple of years to have a special guest, Johnny Knapp, former Birdland pianist!

I encourage you to book a room early, pay your dues and come spend another incredible weekend with your brother and sister Knights! Send me any and all comments and suggestions to make this event as good as it can be. Thanks for all your support from one of the original “WineHeads” (you know who you are).

Jazz Lives, Dave Edmunds


A good place to lay your head. You can reserve our special rate at the Marriott (website) until June 17, 2013. For reservations, call (800) 228-9290 and say you are with the Auburn Knights Reunion. It is $85-plus-tax per night, and our block of dates extends from Tuesday, July 16 to Sunday, July 21. Did I mention that the final date for group-rate reservations is June 17, 2013? <= This is a firm deadline.

(Non-members: the special rate is limited to regular, associate and honorary members of the AKAA.)

A good way to spend your bread. Don’t forget to fill out the Registration Form inside the May 2013 newsletter and send with payment to Wade Johnson (address on form). All membership dues help keep the reunion going and support the current band. All concert admission and extra donations go to the scholarship program for current band members. This is a pay-to-play event.

(Non-members: You can use this same form to prepare us for your visit. We would LOVE to have you join us at our reunion for the concerts.)

A good reason to go in the shed. The May 2013 issue of The Bridge will mail soon with contact info for bandleaders and the rehearsal schedule. If you want to play, we want you on the bandstand!

(Non-members: seats in the bands are limited to regular, associate and honorary members.)

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JazzWax Interviews Marion Evans about Unusual 1959 LP

Mary Kate Gach sent this one in. In February 2012, the website JazzWax investigated the 1959 LP titled Ted McNabb & Co. In the article, Marc Myers interviews Marion Evans (AKO ’51), who did the arrangements for the album. It’s a great story that starts out with…

“…The guy said, ‘My girlfriend sings, and I want to record an album of her accompanied by a top band. Cost isn’t a problem.’…”

Below is a personnel list from the article.

“…On the date were Burt Collins, Bernie Glow, Doc Severinsen, John Bello (tp); Sy Berger, Frank Rehak, Urbie Green, Dick Hixson (tb); Dick Meldonian, Gene Quill (as) [pictured]; Al Cohn, Zoot Sims (ts); Sol Schlinger (bar); Nat Pierce (p); Barry Galbraith (g), Milt Hinton (b) and Osie Johnson (d). When a few musicians couldn’t make it for the second and third dates, Al Derisi and John Frosk (tp), Herb Geller (as), John Drew (b) and Don Lamond (d) stepped in…”

Read the full article here: Marion Evans on Ted McNabb on Marc Myers’s JazzWax.

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Marilynne Myson Wins Audition in 1966

Marilynne Myson (’51-’53) sent in this newspaper clipping from The Plain Dealer, a paper in Cleveland, Ohio. The date on the article is January 23, 1966. If anyone wants to transcribe the text from the article and e-mail it to me, I’ll add it to this post. Also, if someone will convert to JPG Marilynne’s picture from the PDF below, I’ll add that, too.

2-Month Search…then Marilyn Myson Sang Up (pdf) – by Glenn C. Pullen

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Pictures from 2010 (Yes, 2010) Reunion

Working on the upcoming newsletter, I found an e-mail with links to hundreds of Fredreica (Atkins) Speyer’s pictures from the 2010 Reunion. I don’t see them posted anywhere on the site, so I’ve done that here.

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