The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Submitted by: Vern Johansson
Sunday, October 20, 2002
Magical moment #1: Gary Corbett, a fine soprano player from the early '60's told me he couldn't play because he'd just recently had by-pass surgery. When Barry Bell raised his arms in preparation of the first note of music heard from the Optimists in 24 years, there was Gary with his horn at the ready.
1:36 p.m. Magic moment #2: The hornline plays its first note. It was the most ragged, poorly executed beautiful note I've heard in decades.
Mid afternoon: Magic moment #3: Barry asks Joe Gianna if he wants to try it. It being a very powerful solo played by Joe in the opening of Taboo, 1962-63. Joe said, "sure". My knees buckle as I hear this long lost memory. It wasn't perfect but there was no mistaking who owned the tone.
3:25 p.m. Magic moment #4: Upstairs, 14 drummers are wailing away on practice pads under the close scrutiny of Bob Cook. He's all over them about executional problems, adamantly refusing to recognize the 25 to 35 years of accumulated rust.
3:50 p.m. Magic moment #5: Lorne Ferrazzutti teaches the snare part to Taboo. He stops to tell a story. The drummers tell him what he can do with his story. He tells it anyway.
4:05 p.m. Magic moment #6: Mhairi Cumming, a member of the Seneca Optimists Colour Guard, sheds a tear of joy at hearing the Optimists play again.
4:20 p.m. Magic moment #7: Al Miller shows the women in the guard the finer points of hurtling an 11 pound, fully chromed Lee Enfield rifle into the air.
4:25 p.m. Magic moment #8: Barry Bell is still Barry Bell.
4:30 p.m. Magic moment #9: Ensemble. It was ragged. It was thin in the bottom end. The drums lacked oomph because they were playing on a piece of lumber. None of it mattered. After 1 rehearsal, the Optimists Alumni Corps had one complete tune in the bag. And it was beautiful noise.
5:05 p.m. Magic moment #10: Each person in attendance stood up and told us who they are and who they used to be. Many spoke of how absolutely delighted they were to be doing this again.
If you can spare one Sunday afternoon a month and find yourself regularly reminiscing about the old days, the old ways please join us. It's a celebration of the music of Colonel Truman Crawford. Anyone who ever marched in a corps in the golden age of drum corps (the golden age being whenever YOU marched) is welcome to join us. If you have a horn, please bring it. If you need one, please let us know and we'll have one ready for you. If you're drumming, bring sticks. Sunday, November 24th, 1-5 p.m. Royal Canadian Legion (former Shrine) 1395 Lakeshore Boulevard West (just east of the Boulevard Club at the foot of Dowling St).
The magic moments continue.