Big band. Big appetite.

Who starts a Big Band at the beginning of a Global Pandemic and what part does Dim Sum play in all of this?

At the beginning of the Global Pandemic many of us turned to sources like Netflix to watch the latest documentaries. Mississauga, Ontario based Professional Studio Musician/Drummer Dan Bodanis accidentally stumbled onto a Frank Sinatra Special; four days later, he stumbled upon a Quincy Jones Special, and from those two Netflix Specials – highlighting those revered days of music, when Frank Sinatra, with the Count Basie Orchestra, under the Musical Direction of Quincy Jones, headlined at the Sands in Las Vegas, and a highly inspired idea was born – to form a 19 piece Big Band!

Dan Bodanis, left. Tom Skublics, right. Photos by Michael Willems
Photo by Cristos Kalangis

With the full support and strong encouragement of his wife Kelly; a well-written business plan; the formation of a strong, encouraging steering committee; and a burning desire to realize his life-long dream of starting a 19-piece Jazz Orchestra, otherwise referred to as a ‘Big Band,’ the Dan Bodanis Big Band came to fruition. The Dan Bodanis Big Band is referred to as the DBBB or the DB Big Band.

Dan decided to emulate the Big Band ‘model’ created by the great Count Basie. Dan turned to long-time friend and great sax player Tom Skublics, and asked if he would consider becoming the ‘MD’ for the DBBB? Tom Skublics’ first high profile gig, in 1984, was playing sax at the Imperial Room at the Royal York Hotel, in Toronto, with legendary songstress, Ella Fitzgerald!

Actually, Bodanis didn’t quite ‘ask’ Tom to become the MD, here’s what transpired when he called:

Enter the Restaurant! The Dim Sum Restaurant – Summit Garden Chinese Cuisine!

For 24 years, Summit Garden Chinese Cuisine has been the restaurant of choice for those in Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who love fine Cantonese style Chinese food. The second day Summit Garden was open, Dan and his wife, Kelly, went in for an incredible 3 hour feast! Leaving with a strong desire to return, a new friend, in owner, Ken Choi, and the memory of the best Chinese food they had ever eaten, Dan and his family would return countless times for Dim Sum lunches, grand dinners, children’s Christenings, Birthday parties, and Anniversaries!

Photo by Michael Willems
Photo by Sabian Bodanis
Photo by Cristos Kalangis
Dan with Mr. Ken Choi, Owner of Summit Garden Chinese Cuisine - Patron and Honorary Member of the DBBB.

Dim Sum at Summit Garden, Dan’s influence on Tom’s dining habits, and how the band was formed.

Soon after falling in love with the wonderful Cantonese Style Chinese Cuisine at Summit Garden, Dan introduced Tom to the restaurant and quite quickly, Summit Garden became Tom’s favourite Chinese Restaurant.

Normally/Usually, it is the job of the Musical Director to select the musicians for any project.

With the Dan Bodanis Big Band, Dan had a plan, and that plan included selecting musicians that he would like to share a stage with – that he knew intuitively Tom would agree with!

That plan: quite simply put, we would only select people that that would like to share Dim Sum with, at Summit Garden, on a 1 on 1 basis, or as a 19 piece ‘dining collective,’ who also happen to be world class musicians, with lots of experience, and a shared mutual passion for big band music!

When Dan shared this idea with Tom, Tom immediately loved the idea, and together, Dan and Tom assembled a list of wonderful people, who also happen to be world class musicians, that they wished to ‘eat Dim Sum with, at Summit Garden!’

Read the whole delicious story…

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