The Prohibition Orchestra of Chicago
June 12, 2016
Founded in 2004, the Prohibition Orchestra of Chicago is the area’s only active 10-piece 1920s-style hot dance band. Gus himself is part of a recreationist movement spearheaded by New York bandleader Vince Giordano. It has played a series of monthly engagements, starting first at Tommy Nevin's Pub in Evanston and, until late 2009, at Bill's Blues in Evanston. Other club appearances have included the Chopin Theater, the Viaduct Theater, and the Evanston S.P.A.C.E., as well as Fitzgerald's in Berwyn. It was featured at Phil Pospychala's Tribute to Bix Festival in Racine, Wisconsin, in 2005, and is making its second ICOTJ appearance -- or third, if you count former Illiana Club President Joe Urbancik's 50th birthday party in 2010
The Prohibition Orchestra displays a beautiful feel for some complex charts. Their repertoire includes many jazz standards as well as hot dance numbers. The band has had access to the Balaban and Katz Archive, a massive collection of stock arrangements once owned by the theater chain and provided to their theater pit bands. The archive was donated to the Chicago Public Library and constitutes one of the largest collections of stock arrangements anywhere. Roughly 26,000 of these arrangements were saved at the last moment from being tossed in the trash during the renovation of the Chicago Theater. The Prohibition Orchestra is serious about exposing people today to the music of the 1920’s as accurately as possible and that includes capturing the era’s brash sense of fun.
Gus Friedlander, on banjo, is the founder of this ten piece hot dance band, has played with Alan Gresik’s Swing Shift Orchestra, also leads the Whiskey Hollow Bluegrass Band and plays traditional Irish music. He plays four and five string banjos, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, fiddle and bass and teaches these instruments.
Jim Johnson, saxophone, is the longtime lead alto saxophonist with the Swing Shift Orchestra, playing every Thursday at the Green Mill.
Juli Wood, tenor saxophone; is one of Chicago’s busiest up-and-coming jazzwomen. She has appeared at Chicago Jazz Festival with Jody Christian as well as under her own name and with Paul Cebar and Earma Thompson. www.juliwoodsax.com
Dave Drazin, piano, is the leader of his own group, the Ambassadors. He travels locally and nationwide, specializing in the accompaniment of silent motion pictures. www.kendavies.net/daviddraxin
Fernando “Freddie” Garcia, alto saxophone, is one of Chicago’s most respected dance-band reedmen. A former member of the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, he is also an accomplished arranger and transcriber.
Peter Bartels, trumpet, charter member of Prohibition Orchestra, is a veteran of Dixieland bands and Alan Gresik’s Swing Shift Orchestra. By day, he teaches music at Chicago Public Schools.
Paul Basa, second trumpet, is a member of Ron Surace’s “In Full Swing” big band. He has played with many R&B legends including the O’Jays, Temptations and Aretha Franklin. He is also a teacher and technician.
Dan “Fuzzbone” Sniderman, trombone, another founding member of Prohibition Orchestra, is a veteran of the Big Swing Jazz Band, the Swing Shift Orchestra, the Déjà vu Big Band and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. His bold, punchy style has led to a reputation as” Chicago’s most dangerous trombonist”!
Gary Schepers, tuba, is most well-known around Chicago for his work with the blues trio “Devil in a Woodpile” and is one of the city’s most in-demand live sound engineers.
Tim Mulvenna, drums, has a long resume that includes work with jazz musicians Fareed Haque, Fred Anderson, Richie Cole, in addition to performing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and at many jazz festivals in US, Canada, South America. www.timmulvenna.com
Andi Tauber, vocalist, is an accomplished singer of folk, pop, Celtic, gospel and jazz music. Performs with husband Al Tauber, guitarist and songwriter as “Andi and I” www.andiandI.com