JUST TROMBONES is an all-trombone ensemble that performs throughout the year. The group traces its origin to the Christmas season of 1987. Alan Johnson, a Dow High School alumnus, called his dad, Bob, looking for a few trombone players to rehearse with during his holiday break from graduate school. Rich Harner, Arnie Huntress, and George Bork agreed to look at some new musical arrangements for trombone quartet. That first session set the pattern for several years to come.
In the early 1990s, a group of 8 to 12 trombonists performed in the lobby of the Midland Center for the Arts immediately before the Midland Concert Band Christmas concert. At that time the group was known as the MCB Trombone Ensemble, and the holiday pre-concert tradition has continued to this day.
Eventually, JUST TROMBONES adopted its distinctive name and logo, and has performed for weddings, a funeral, an ordination, a retirees’ party, and many church services. During the Christmas season the group plays for senior citizens in retirement facilities, hospital patients, and at area shopping malls. Depending on the venue, between 4 and 16 players perform, drawing from a list of about 20. The group has been featured at the Central Michigan University Trombone Festival, where 42 trombones shared the stage.
Most members are from Midland, but Bay City, Freeland, and Saginaw are represented. High school students have joined in, and most of them continue for some time through college, whenever they return to Midland. Sue Gessford serves as the group’s coordinator and scheduler, while Dave Gessford organizes the music. Rich Harner directs the group musically.