Over three decades ago, Henry Mason had just finished College and was playing trombone in the Callanwolde Concert Band, an all-volunteer community concert band, in Decatur, Georgia. During an after-rehearsal conversation with one of his friends, the subject of Big Bands was raised, and Henry found out that his friend had a collection of old "stock" Big Band arrangements from years gone by. It didn't take very long to gather enough musician friends to "read down" some of those old charts. It was so much fun we've been at it ever since.
A few months later the Sentimental Journey Orchestra was born. (See our very first photo at right!) The name came about primarily from admiration of the famous Les Brown band, and secondarily, the words of that old song title evoked the spirit of what we initially set out to do: pay homage to all the greats of the Big Band Era . . . that is, take our own sentimental journey!
We started with borrowed stands and lights, a hand-me-down book of stocks and a lot of enthusiasm. The initial nucleus of players came out of the Callanwolde Concert Band. With some additional networking the group was finally filled out with 17 eager musicians. Some of the original members are still playing with us today! We played our first gig at The Old English Inn just outside Atlanta, on December 13, 1975, and now, over thirty years later, the SJO is still pleasing its audiences!
few years back before we updated our stands and uniforms, playing to an
audience in excess of 2,000 New Year's Eve revelers.
Through the years, the SJO has played for audiences of all sizes; from a small wedding reception of 75 persons, to a major corporate event with an audience of 5,500 or the 75th Anniversary of the Fox Theater to some 40,000 revelers. We've played country clubs, hotels, resorts, charity balls, anniversary parties, retirement parties and charity/fundraising society affairs. We've played on the edge of a meadow, a huge convention center, and the historic stages of Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre, and been through the back doors of more hotels than a cheap detective.
We do what we do because we love the music and the sound of the Big Band. We are rehearsed once a week, year round by our rehearsal conductor, a music professional, who earns his bread playing jazz on the Atlanta area scene. He rehearses us with enthusiasm, and any quality we have achieved is a direct result of his consummate musicianship.