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December 26, 2019IM -
In 2009, three professors from the University of North Florida decided to form a rehearsal, or kix, band that would perform contemporary big band music. The band, called the TBA Big Band, has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and two of the founding members who are still with the project were honored by their AFM local for their dedication to big band jazz music.
The TBA Big Band (TBA meaning “To Be Announced”) meets twice a month and performs for a dedicated crowd of followers at a local listening room. Although termed a “rehearsal band,” the audience is frequently reminded that the band never actually rehearses. What the audience hears are musicians from the Jacksonville, Florida area, ages 18 to 91, sight reading big band music—and having a great time doing it.
Band co-founder Dr. Bill Prince, an active member of Local 444 (Jacksonville, FL), provides the music for the first of the two sets—which is mostly music from his own pen. He has played all five saxophone chairs, three of the trumpet chairs, piano, and bass, depending on needs.
Co-founder Dr. Marc Dickman, also a member of Local 444, ‘hires’ the musicians and sees to it that music stands, lights, and chairs are provided. He also developed a library of big band staples and contemporary charts and calls the second set.
Other musicians who have been with the band for all 10 years include Local 444 members John Reid, lead trumpet, and Nat Michelson, baritone sax; as well as Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) member Dave Steinmeyer, trombone, former leader of the US Air Force Airmen of Note.
Because of the band’s musical direction and dedication, the Jacksonville Musician’s Association, Local 444, thought it appropriate to present a plaque to Prince and Dickman recently. The plaque reads, in part, “We recognize the accomplishments of Dr. Bill Prince and Dr. Marc Dickman for continuing and maintaining the unique sounds of American music known as Big Band Jazz.” It was presented on October 21, 2019 and is signed by Andrew Bruck, president, and Brad Buckley, secretary-treasurer.
Prince, now 81, has been a member of the AFM since 1956. Locals he has belonged to include Detroit (Local 5), Denver (Local 20-623), Miami (Local 655), Halifax (Local 571), and Jacksonville (Local 444). One of his most impressive talents is his ability to perform professionally on several instruments, including trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano, and electric bass.
Prince holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a major in theory and composition from the University of Miami. Over the years, he has played with many bands and orchestras and, after attaining the age of 63, he developed a cabaret show that he performed on cruise ships around the world.
Dickman, from Valdosta, Georgia, is a founding member of the acclaimed jazz studies program at the University of North Florida, where he also teaches applied low brass and jazz ensemble.
As a musician, he is a versatile performer on euphonium, trombone, bass-trombone, and tuba in the classical and jazz styles. He has performed all over the world, is a founding member of the jazz ensemble the Modern Jazz Tuba Project, and is music director and conductor of the Nassau Community Band and the Nassau Community Jazz Band.