The following individuals earned the Al Cobine Award for outstanding services to the jazz community of South Central Indiana:
J. MICHAEL LUCAS – 2018/2019
LIDA BAKER – 2017/2018
JOHN LAWSON – 2015/2016
NEIL FERRIS – 2014/2015
LISSA MAY – 2013/2014
DAVID BRENT JOHNSON – 2012/2013
MONIKA HERZIG – 2011/2012
JAMEY AEBERSOLD – 2010/2011
BOB AUSTIN – 2008/2009
DICK BISHOP – 2007/2008
JANIS STOCKHOUSE – 2006/2007
JOE BOURNE – 2005/2006
DAVE PAVOLKA – 2004/2005
DAVID MILLER – 2003/2004
DAVID BAKER – 2002/2003
Al Cobine’s Story
Al Cobine, born in Richmond, Indiana, graduated from Richmond High School, Earlham College, received his MA from the University of Cincinnati, and continued his studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. It was in Bloomington, that Cobine formed his band, in the fall of 1956. By 1960 his band received an award from the National Ballroom Association, and in 1961 the band won an award for being “best of the new dance bands,” presented by the American Federation of Musicians.
Over the years, Cobine’s band has attained a fine reputation for musical excellence and versatility. To list a few achievements: This past year alone (1983) the Al Cobine Big Band has played for the Columbia Club in Indianapolis, Purdue University, the I.U. Foundation, The Chevrolet Corporation, The French Lick Hotel, The Hyatt-Regency Hotel, The Anderson Rotary Club, The American Business Association.
By 1962, Bill Armstrong of the I.U.Foundation brought Cobine in to write for, and the band played for, the Little 500 Show. So for many years Cobine wrote the music for the Little 500 Show, wrote for the THE SINGING HOOSIERS, and backed up the many giants of show business such as Petula Clark, Bob Hope, Pat Boone, Wayne Newton, Bobby Darin, Vikki Carr, Vic Damone and many others. On the strength of these performances, he and the band started touring the country, as back-up to the stars, with such diverse people as Glenn Campbell, Seals & Crofts, Elvis Presley (1973), John Denver and Tom Jones (1974 and 1975).
In 1965, Henry Mancini began touring the U.S. with a 40 piece concert orchestra and Al Cobine was asked to contract the group. That started a long association that continues today, first as music contractor-band leader, then as tenor sax soloist. Cobine and his musicians have toured in 36 states with Mancini, and hundreds of thousands have heard Cobine perform the “Pink Panther” and “The Days of Wine and Roses.” In 1967, Andy Williams joined Mancini and they toured with great success for the next several years.
Cobine has played in Evansville many times over the years, starting with the Junior League and most recently playing for the Evansville Executive Inn. The Welborn Hospital Foundation, Ind., for the last three years brought in such luminaries as Henry Mancini, Mel Torme, Rich Little, and Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach and Cobine’s band has been there to back them up. As a writer-arranger, Cobine is best known for his “Vermont Suite,” music for brass, his theme music for the television show “Wild Kingdom,” stage band works, “October In The Air”, “Love and Joy”, “Jazz Espagnol”, “Short and Sweet”, “I Won’t Dance”, “My Man Quincy”, and many others.
Cobine can do a variety of things in the musical field, but he still feels that the most important thing in his musical life is his band. It has been his workshop, talent finder, musical powerhouse and catalyst, that has made everything else work. His big band is a unique group: the arrangements are written by Cobine and they bridge the gap between the old and the new, they play for the young and the old, the latest tunes and the great old standards, old time swing and the new beat. It is a swinging and ongoing affair.
Al Cobine and his Big Band has been in the business of playing for people for over twenty years now, and he seems to have enjoyed the trip.