The following was taken from the Puget Sound Traditional Jazz Society Newsletter from October, 1998
The Cornucopia Concert Band is the result of a plot by tuba player Allan Rustad and cornetist Jeff Hughes aboard a Trailways bus enroute to the Sacramento Jazz Festival in May of 1979. Jeff was playing with the Rainier Jazz Band at the festival, but was interested in some of the more classical early 20th century cornet pieces. Al had a stash of old orchestra and band arrangements from his grandfather and from a retired music teacher. After returning from the festival, they called their musical friends and came up with a little band of about ten people: Two cornets, two clarinets, flute, oboe, sax, two trombones, bassoon, and tuba. No drums.
They played through some of the dusty old charts that had not seen the light of day for 40-plus years and the music didn't sound too bad. Not too good either, at the start. They practiced diligently and first played in public at the Green Lake Fair, in July of 1979. To fill out the one-half hour time slot, they had to play the first tune again to finish the program.
Early members included; Ronnie Pierce - flute, Herb Hamilton - bassoon, John Draper - sax, and Terry Rogers - sax. They persevered and appeared at a few "fringe" events in the Seattle area. Jeff finished his graduate studies at UW a few years later and left for Boston. Casting reason to the winds, Al carried on, recruiting a few new members from community theater orchestras and personal acquaintances. New sources of original arrangements were sought out and the library began to grow. The artistic concept was to emulate the small town bands of the early 20th century, who were then the principal purveyors of popular music in America.
By 1989, the band had grown in stature, being included in the Washington State Centannial Touring Artist program. They have been in the King County Arts program since 1988 performing at local events. As they near their 20th year, some original members remain and the ranks have grown to 24 members, plus two singers. Music of the Ragtime Era still charms audiences and dancers and reflects the innocence and optimism of those early days. Performing for the Puget Soung Traditional Jazz Society recalls early days of playing for you at the Russian Center on Capitol Hill. The Cornucopians will bring you a good dose of ragtime and hot dance band music from the 1920's "for your listening and dancing pleasure."
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