These reunions aren't just about old friends. They're about new friends, too.
In the lobby I spotted John Branam. I've seen him at reunions before, but never met him. He was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. That led to stories of that era, of course, but we quickly came back to the present.
John is taking over as rehearsal director this year, a job that Terry Chesson handled before his election to the NMA presidency. He says he's looking forward to the job of organizing Big Band rehearsals, and won't wait too long to begin. If we have enough players, we'll start tomorrow morning.
That's ambitious; it' s hard to predict who will be here, what instrumentation will be on board.
But our sessions are not only about musical excellence.
"It's about the camaraderie," John told me.
As I talk to the officers and volunteers, I hear that word a lot.