“It means a lot to play in Hannibal, where I know I can see people I worked with through the years,” said Jerry Epperson, who came to Hannibal Sunday as a member of Cornet Chop Suey. The band’s concert was its 10th annual appearance for the Great River Jazz Society in Hannibal. (See related article).
“There are always several musicians around Hannibal and Quincy that I’ve known through the years who come and hear the band, too,” he said.
Epperson works at Continental Cement in Hannibal and lives in Clarksville.
“It’s always a special treat for me” to play with the band for local audiences, he said because he not only works in Hannibal, he was born there. His family moved away less than two years later.
The concert Sunday featured some numbers from the band’s newest CD, Epperson said. Two are his own arrangements, including an arrangement of an old tune by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra. “My arrangement is quite a twist,” he said. “The Lombardos might not approve a New Orleans-style adaptation.”
Another song on the CD is “Lullaby of the Leaves,” on which he plays baritone sax. This is an example of the songs the Cornet Chop Suey band plays at jazz festivals on the west coast, Epperson said, where it does tunes by one of his idols, baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan. “I play a lot of his songs on the west coast, because he was very popular there.”
The Cornet Chop Suey band plays more on the west coast than in Missouri, he added, although it is based in St. Louis. “We try to play every style of jazz, from traditional New Orleans style to swing and big band style, and more modern things. We try to put on a show for each audience.
“People in Hannibal are more interested in dance, so we try to make sure we do things they can always dance to.” And when the band plays near universities, it plays swing music for the dance clubs.
Additional members of Cornet Chop Suey are Brian Casserly, Tommy Tucker, Al Sherman, John Gillick, Brett Stamps and Paul Reid. The band’s Web site is www.cornetchopsuey.com.