Traditional Jazz Orchestra
Dan Anderson, tuba
Tom Birkner or Jeff Helgesen, cornet
Mike Miller, banjo
Morgan Powell, trombone
Randy Salman, clarinet
TJO plays hot music from the early 20th century when jazz was young — the music of King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and other popular composers from the period.
“Canal Street Blues” on YouTube:
Also on YouTube:
A little history
TJO’s first gig was June 17th, 2009 at the Iron Post, Urbana, IL. TJO was the brainchild of Tom Birkner. The group was immediately popular and always had an enthusiastic audience. Birkner was head of the music department at Bellville High School and doing a massive amount of teaching there, so his appearance with TJO was limited. So when the band started having a monthly and then semi monthly gig, Jeff Helgesen would sometimes sub for Tom.
The immediate predecessor of TJO, was Larry Gushee’s band, The New Golden Rule Orchestra (NGRO) 1984 – 1994, which he formed in Champaign/Urbana and whose original members were, Gushee, clarinet, Tom Birkner, cornet, Howard Spring, guitar and Chris Waterman, bass. Others who joined the band between the mid 80’s and 1990 were Brian Wilkie, guitar, and TJO members, Dan Anderson, bass, Morgan Powell, trombone and Mike Miller, banjo. Before NGRO, Ron Dewar’s bands played hot jazz around town — the Memphis Nighthawks 1975 – 79 and The Jack Webb Band, 1979 – 1986. Mike Miller played in both of Dewar’s spectacular bands.
In 1969 a traditional jazz band was formed from within the Illinois Jazz Band (with John Garvey, leader) for a U. S. State Department tour to Russia. The players were Ric Bendle, cornet; Jim Cuomo, clarinet; Larry Dwyer, trombone; Terry Pettijohn, banjo; Dean Leff, tuba; and Chuck Braugham, drums. In the late 1960’s during a time of war protest on the U of I campus, Dan Perrino formed The Medicare 7, 8 or 9 dixieland jazz band, primarily to draw in the dissenting students and soothe campus unrest. This band — a huge success — played for three decades, performing for students on campus and U of I Alumni Associations throughout the U. S. A. The original members of Medicare were Dan Perrino, saxphone; John O’Conner, trumpet; Stan Rahn, clarinet; Morris Carter, trombone; Dick Cisney, piano; Don Perseval, bass; and Rudy James, drums.
Rudy James also had a popular trad band from the mid 60’s into the early 80’s, The Village Inn Stompers.
Carl Johnson, clarinetist, has been heading the New Orleans Jazz Machine, a dixie/swing sextet for many years. NJM took up some of the giging opportunities when Rudy James died and later when Perrino ended the Medicare 7, 8 or 9.
Hot music has an inherent sadness, joy and hope embedded in it. This comes from a deep place of human response to the social history of our country.