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Article Published September 10, 2019
Survivors Swing Band to Play Branford Green Sept. 19
Pam Johnson, Senior Staff Writer

To help celebrate Branford's 375th anniversary, Branford Parks and Recreation will sponsor a special, free performance of Connecticut's own Survivors Swing Band Thurs. Sept. 19 on the Branford Green from 6:30 - 8 p.m.

The band has been making music and thrilling audience for decades. Survivors is best known for bringing the music of the "Big Bands" and toe-tapping melodies from the 1920's - 1940's back to life with a new flavor, thanks to their improvisational style.

Branford Parks and Recreation Director Alex Palluzzi Jr. said this special Thursday night show has been arranged in conjunction with Branford Summer Jazz Series; but it's a special event that's being brought to town to help celebrate Branford's 375th birthday.

"It's Branford Parks and Recreation Department's gift to the community," said Palluzzi. "It's just a great show to have for our historic 375th. We're bringing something a little bit different. It's jazz, but it's swing jazz."

The Survivors are Jeremy Alston (Drums), Jules Bashkin (Alto Sax), Greg Butko (Reeds) Lauren Humpage (Bass, Vocals), Dave Mechler (Cornet, Trumpet) and Sandra Wittman (Piano).

Branford Parks and Recreation Department shared the following information about the musicians:

Jeremy Alston (Drums) has played drums and solo piano in Connecticut for many years.  A long-time member of the local jazz group Music From the Heart, he also teaches music and has performed all over the country in bands of various genres.

Jules Bashkin (Alto Sax) is the most "seasoned" member and the chief marketer who has played saxophone as a kid during the Swing Era. He put the horn away upon settling into family life in his early 20's and then unpacked it for the first time again upon retiring from a sales career at the age of 84.  For over 10 years now he has re-honed his musical skills and has played with the Survivors since its "house band" days.

Greg Butko (Reeds) is a founding member of the Survivors Swing Band. A long active member on the Connecticut music scene, he plays every week in the Charlie Kaman Band at the Duncaster in Bloomfield.  Greg's newest jazz outlet is the 20th Century Jazz Limited band that plays Dixie/Swing jazz from the early to mid-1900's.

Lauren Humpage (Bass, Vocals) is an original member of the Survivors, and has been musically active in Connecticut since the early 1960's.  A professional recorder, Lauren was a member of the house band at the Griswold Inn and is also a member of the aforementioned 20th Century Jazz Limited group.

Dave Mechler (Cornet, Trumpet) was a founding and long-time member of Earl Capron's Bourbon Street Seven jazz band, performing all over Connecticut and New York.  Over the years, he played regularly with John Banker's Riverboat Ramblers and several other fine jazz groups from Connecticut to Vermont, as well as internationally and in Hawaii.

Sandra Wittman (Piano) is the youngest and newest member of the band and is a music educator and performing artist. Besides teaching classical piano and violin she is the pianist and children's director at White Oak Baptist Church on Wallingford.  Sandra's jazz-playing outlets include the Starlighters Jazz Band in New Haven.