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They Could Have Danced All Night (and could have asked for more) by Arnie Koch

Anyone who questions the drawing power of a big band today should have been at Memorial Hall in Melrose, Mass. on Saturday evening, November 12. The American Big Band Preservation Society (ABBPS) sponsored its first major fundraiser concert and dance called “The Big Bands Are Back” to help fund in-school band music programs in Melrose.

The 18-piece big band, “The Abletones”, led by Dan Gabel, was featured, with Amanda Carr, ABBPS founder and concert organizer, and Rob Zappulla as vocalists. A special moment was when four members of the Melrose High School band joined the band to read the charts and each take a solo to “Alumni Jazz Band Blues” composed and arranged by Gabel.

Reserved seats were sold out a week in advance on the internet with only general admission tickets available at the door. The main local ticket outlet reported the largest advance sale for the Hall they had ever experienced. Based on the anticipated favorable word-of-mouth, a return engagement is being planned for the spring by ABBPS with other venues under review.

The Hall is considered one of the most distinctive performance centers on Boston’s North Shore with a seating capacity of 800 and a 30 X 40 ft. stage. For the event, a large dance floor, surrounded by reserved tables, was sometimes filled to capacity with dancers of many ages.

“The turnout exceeded our best expectations,” said Carr. “The evening’s success verified our faith in ABBPS’s mission to help restore the music of the big bands to its proper place in our music culture, especially with the younger generation.”

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