They Ain’t Misbehavin’ in East Bremerton | Kitsap Week

The weekly jazz performance, Tuesdays at McCloud’s Grill House, draws a crowd large enough to fill its main hall.

By Chris Tucker

Kitsap Week

Lively dancers twist and spin on a dance floor in the dim, red-and-blue light. On the stage before them is their muse: The Ain’t Misbehavin’ jazz band, all decked out in matching black pants, black suspenders and blue shirts. The drummer and bassist smile as the clarinet player arches backward to hit a high note.

“We come almost every week,” said dancer Mary Schweiger after she cut a rug — well, wooden floorboard, anyway — with her dance partner, Mr. Jan Urban.

“It’s the best music and it’s music that you can’t hear everywhere,” even in Seattle, she said.

The weekly jazz performance, Tuesdays at McCloud’s Grill House on Perry Avenue in East Bremerton, draws a crowd large enough to fill its main hall. Most of the jazz fans aren’t on the dance floor but instead sit at dining tables spread out across the room. On their menu at a recent January jazz night: Flat Iron steak and bleu cheese macaroni, Southern fried chicken and bacon salad all finished off with peach cobbler and ice cream for dessert.

Jeff Winslow plays sax, clarinet and flute for the band. He’s a retired doctor who worked at Harrison Medical Center for 16 years. But now, he said, he is making people happy a different way — with music.

“What we’re trying to do is bring back live, old music … vintage music,” Winslow said.

Think 1920s-1940s jazz. Show-tune music. Fats Waller, Cole Porter and George Gershwin.

He describes the band’s music as “spontaneous and lively and almost boisterous at times.”

“Things you go home humming,” as Winslow puts it. “We don’t use any sheet music. It’s just all by ear.”

The band, he said, has been around since 2003. That’s when Don Alverson, who plays piano for the band, got the ball rolling when he played at Whiskey Creek Restaurant in Keyport.

The band played for years at Whiskey Creek and had about 120 die-hard music fans that would come to see them play. That venue, however, was remodeled for a reality television program and the band found a new home at the Old Town Bistro in Silverdale for a couple of years. Since August, the band has made McCloud’s its home and members have been getting the word out on the new hot spot.

“We’re still getting up to speed,” said Ricardo Vigil, the maitre d’ of the group. Vigil helps organize reservations. He has slicked-back black hair and he’s busy on jazz nights meeting with audience members and serving drinks.

It’s mostly a five-piece band, but the actual number of people who contribute can vary a bit, including guest vocalists.

Alverson, the pianist, was an executive for an electronic components company that served 11 western states before he retired. He’s played piano since he was 12.

“Oh, I love it … we have a good time,” Alverson said.

Dale Brown plays four-string banjo and violin.

“All five of us, we joke and kid with each other,” Brown said.

Brown used to be in a traveling barbershop quartet until he decided to make his wife happy by traveling less.

But that quartet sound is still with him.

“There’s a definite connection between barbershop quartets and the way that I play the banjo,” Brown said.

Mick Nicholson plays bass and tuba.

“I’ve been a musician all my life,” Nicholson said. Since the first grade at least.

He felt irresistibly drawn to what he calls the “beautiful, woody” sound of acoustic bass and cites famed American jazz bassist Charlie Haden as an influence.

“We’re the unsung heroes,” Nicholson said of the low, foundational tones that bass players add to a band’s sound.

Matt Stewart plays drums, which he described as the best and oldest instrument in the world. He cut his teeth on Count Basie, he said, and also admires the work of famed drummers Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones.

Yvonne McAllister, 93, plays trumpet for the band.

“All my life it’s been music. That’s all I can say,” McAllister said. She started on the trumpet. She said her mother was the first trumpet player in Seattle.

“My mother was a wonderful player,” McAllister said.

McAllister was playing music for an Alaskan cruise line at the time World War II broke out.

“It was wonderful fun,” she said of the cruise music work.

The same band members also switch things up and play Dixieland jazz under another name, “The Bourbon Street All Stars,” on the first Tuesday of the month. On those days, the band adds Bruce Cosacchi on trumpet and Rex Rice on trombone.

There’s no cover to see the band, but reservations are encouraged. They perform on Tuesdays from 5-9 p.m. For more information, go to The grill is located at 2901 Perry Ave. in East Bremerton. Call 360-373-3093.