"You talk about a community symphony, that's sort of what this band is," explains Gordon Ramsey, leader, arranger, trumpet and valve trombone player of the 21-member Difficult Run Jazz Band. "It started because there were a bunch of guys who, during their schooling, played quite a bit and liked big-band stuff. And then they went out to other professions to earn their bread."
Once the group came together two years ago it couldn't find a place to rehearse ("they wouldn't fit in my house") and so a year-round Music 149 class was established in the continuing education division of Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus. "We meet every Saturday morning for 3 1/2 hours," says Ramsey, who teaches the course. The band will offer a program of swing era standards from 2 to 4 p.m. today at the Pavilion in the Old Post Office.
Band members range in age from 20 to 60 and include an Army colonel, a Marine biologist, several lawyers and a judge. Ramsey, a Foreign Service retiree, played in the brass sections of the Jack Teagarden and Tex Beneke bands after World War II service in Army bands. "I've a double career," says Ramsey, who studied with French composer Arthur Honegger at the Ecole Normal Musique de Paris "for six years and ran out of money and got a job with the Marshall Plan. I'm licensed to teach in France," he chuckles, "in counterpoint."