We'll Miss Him!
For nearly ten years, Brent Sessions has been an important part of the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. His astounding virtuosity on the Tenor Sax has continued to thrill dancers, particularly during jams when he could spin chorus after chorus of flawless improvisation on standards like Sing, Sing, Sing or One O'Clock Jump. Brent was able to serve up these classics in a new and refreshing way that never destroyed the underlying rhythm. He gave us a wonderful musical experience while preserving our ability to express it in dance. This guy is a real Killer!
Brent will be leaving us for Phoenix, Arizona where his day career with the government will take him. Our loss is the Southwest's gain!
Our connection with Brent began in 1997 and the shenannigans that were part of the raucous early swing scene at America Restaurant. At that time, people devoted a lot more energy toward having fun than over-intellectualizing about abstractions like connectivity. Brent was already a star, and some of us came up with an idea that would bring him to the forefront. A local thrift store provided a large bag of oversized ladies underwear; these were distributed to folks in the crowd who agreed to pelt Brent with them at the end of his solo in the Jam. Here is a photo from that event:
Brent, the "Sax" Symbol
In the intervening years, Brent has married and has a lovely young son:
Will take the sax world by storm in 2025
Alas, August 24, 2002 was Brent's last appearance with the Cunningham Band for DC dancers. Robin and Tom pulled out all the stops. One additional treat was the return of the wonderful RPM Trio who were just astounding in their rendition of Andrews Sisters Tunes.
The RPM Trio
Tom and Debra added more nostalgia to the event with all of their classic Jam moves, including the Death Spike. No matter how many times they do it, there are beginners in the crowd whose eyes light up. Probably, the Spike and the Pretzel have been responsible for creating more swing dancers in the past 8 years than all the "musicality" since the Middle Ages...
Tom and Deb's Signature
Meanwhile, Brent was hard at work, spinning out one inventive chorus after another during the Jam
The Master at Work
The evening ended with the presentation of a special cake, baked in Brent's honor. (Some have asked about the cake --- you can click here for the recipe) The cake was inscribed with Duke Ellington's signoff, "Love You Madly". And, that about sums it up -- we're gonna miss you, big guy!
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