Jazz Medics: A band that "doctors" the music
HOUSTON – They have been playing gigs around Houston for quite some time, but this isn't your average touring band.
They're called the Jazz Medics, co-founded back in the 1960s by the famous heart surgeon Denton Cooley.
Our cameras caught up with them at Seven Acres Senior Care Center in Meyerland on a rehearsal night recently.
On this night they whipped through standards like "All the Way" by Sammy Cahn; "A String of Pearls" by Glenn Miller and "Don't Get Around Anymore" by Duke Ellington.
"We have lost members, we're regaining members–we're up and we're down," said Sid Schwartz, who's been in the band since the 1980s.
Their members for the most part have been in medicine, going back to its founder Denton Cooley.
Originally, they called themselves the Heart Strings because most of the doctors were cardiologists and played string instruments.They pivoted to the Heart Beats, recording an album under that name, before switching to the Jazz Medics in 1974 to reflect the professional diversity.
"I think a lot of doctors and a lot of healthcare professionals are attracted to music in a sort of professional way because the core of music is mathematical," said Schwartz.
Richard Waghalter has been in the band at least 30 years, he thinks.
"This is like boys night out coming here," Waghalter said. "I just enjoy doing it. It's just been a part of my nature, music like I still do dentistry. People say should I retire? You gotta work first. I enjoy what I'm doing so I don't consider it work."
Chaz Neilson is an emergency room physician.
"The era of the 30s, 40s and 50s, it's really dying off," said Neilson. "We play nursing homes where people don't even recognize those songs. They know the 50s now. They know the 60s."
They play a few shows a year at Seven Acres but mainly just rehearse there. For more information, head to their Facebook page.
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