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Craig Raymond and The Next Generation Band has musical roots that span back 6 decades to 1953 when Al Raymond, already a seasoned trumpeter from his days with an army concert & jazz band in General George Patton's 3rd army during WWII, a tour with the Elliot Lawrence Big Band, three years with the Philadelphia based George Summers Big Band, and leader of his own combo.  Al decided it was time to put his real dream into action and form his own big band.  With "Live" music still thriving in those days, it was fairly easy for Al to begin picking up gigs in the in the many ballrooms and musical bars in the Tri-State area.  In 1956, the Al Raymond Big Band began to flourish as Al struck a steady "gig" on Sunday nights at Upper Darby's St. Alice's Social Center playing for the youth generation, usually over 1000 per week, ages 16-29.  This was the beginning of Al's heyday.   For 8 great years, the band kept the audiences' dancing feet in motion, while gaining notoriety and reaping many spin-off benefits by performing for hundreds of weddings, ballroom dances, and senior proms at many of the tri-state area high schools and colleges.  All this while maintaining a full time day schedule as a school band director at Darby High School, Sun Valley High School and Beverly Hills Junior High School for 27 years.  Through Al Raymond's 45 year career as a big band leader, the band enjoyed quite a string on notable successes; performing for quite a few "Stars": Mel Torme, Shirley Jones, Merv Griffin, Tony Martin, Al Martino, Cozy Morley, Frank Gorshin, June Valle, Tony Randall to name just a few, at many of the top locations like Steel Pier in Atlantic City, Convention Hall in Philadelphia and A.C., Sunnybrook Ballroom, the Academy of Music, the Valley Forge & Westbury Music Fairs, The New York Hilton Hotel, Palumbos, the Grand Opera House in Wilmington De. among the countless country clubs and hotels in the region.  To cap off his long line of accomplishments, the Al Raymond Big Band played at the Inaugural Balls of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton in Washington DC., recorded over 20 albums and played on several cruise ships and authored a book about his career and view of the music business, "Swingin Big Bands Into the Millenium".  He also enjoyed over 15 years as a radio DJ playing an extensive library of big band music from around the world.

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