Sentimental Journey Big Band at Grunin Center

April 16, 2024

The Sentimental Journey Big Band, founded in 1991 by the late trumpeter Frank Richetti, specializes in performing the music of the swing era — transporting its audiences back to the 1930s and ’40s when jazz was America’s popular music.

On Sunday, April 28, the SJBB will return to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts in Toms River, NJ, as part of its Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon series. The concert will celebrate “The Music That Won World War II”. That will undoubtedly include such popular standards as Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” (popularized by Benny Goodman), and Johnny Mercer’s “G.I. Jive”.

There will also be some new arrangements by trumpeter/retired educator Tom Bender of the English folk song, “Loch Lomond” and Benny Carter’s “Harlem on Parade”, made famous by Anita O’Day and Gene Krupa. Bender is a retired music teacher from the Jackson Twp School District.

The band is co-led by Sea Girt, NJ, residents alto saxophonist/clarinetist Curt Morton and his wife, vocalist Altha Morton. Curt Morton studied under bandleader Tommy Tucker at Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) and vibraphonist Gary Burton at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Altha Morton was originally a country-pop singer. After a long career as a public school music teacher, she discovered jazz in the 1980s when she performed with clarinetist Kenny Davern, pianist Dick Wellstood ,and bassist Jack Six in Manasquan, NJ.

In January, SJBB was featured in Spring Lake Magazine. “When Altha sings,” wrote Judith Jones-Ambrosini, “the audience is in for a treat. It’s not only her powerful voice — the teacher in her also instinctively educates the audience on the songs, taking them to a deeper appreciation of the music.” The band, she added, “brings a fresh approach to the Great American Songbook.”

The New Jersey Jazz Society is a proud sponsor of the JOSA series, which is made possible, in part, through the support of the Wintrode Family Foundation. The Grunin Center is located on College Drive on the campus of Ocean County Community College. The concert begins at 3 p.m., and tickets can be ordered at the box office, by logging onto, or by calling (732) 255-0500.

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