Tribute to Norma Allman

While researching Baltimore-area big bands for our Winter 2018 hard-copy newsletter,
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a retirement community, Carroll Lutheran Village, in Westminster, had its own big band, the Never Too Late Band. I was amazed to learn that its leader was a 90-year-old trombonist, Norma Allman. Actually, I was amazed that there was a trombonist still playing at 90 years old, never mind leading a big band. I was to learn later that she also played in the Baltimore County Senior Swing Band. As her son, Mike Allman, told me shortly after Norma’s death on March 5, she had played in both big bands until November, 2017.

Norma graduated from Peabody Conservatory in 1950 (Don Arnold, who also leads a local big band, was a classmate). She played trombone with the Gettysburg and Annapolis symphonies, recorder with the Early Music Society and led a women’s choral group. Norma taught instrumental music for Baltimore County schools. Her second husband, trombonist Neale Allman, got her interested in big band jazz. He started the Never Too Late Band in 2005 and Norma took over its leadership when Neale died in 2010. The band performs nine or ten times per year.

Mike Allman informed me that his parents attended their high school senior prom together and had their second date 37 years later, by which time she was a divorced single mother and he was a widower.

Two days before her death, Norma attended her great-granddaughter’s wedding. The day before she died she hosted a sing-along in her home.

Mike Allman says that his mother was worried that the Never Too Late Band might disappear. However, it will continue under the leadership of Matt Elkey, who also directs the Baltimore County Senior Swing Band. We will profile the Never Too Late Band Band in July, as part of our Big Band of the Week series.