Photo of the jazz band performing on stage.

In 1954, a group of Williams students formed a Dixieland jazz band called Phinney’s Favorite Five—Phinney being a reference to James Phinney Baxter III, Class of 1914, Williams’ president at the time. Founding members Fred Clifford ’58 on tuba and Bob Kingsbury ’58 on clarinet were later joined by John Halsey ’59 on piano and Tom Hayne ’59 on drums. The four performed for the first time as the Williams Reunion Jazz Band during Reunion Weekend in 1983. With guest performers on cornet, banjo, vocals and trombone, they’ve brought their tunes to the reunion each year since. They also have sold out gigs on the East Coast, entertaining alumni on a riverboat cruise and jamming alongside the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. Now, after 41 years, the four alumni will play their final gig at reunion in June before packing away their instruments.

Photo at top, from left: Bob Kingsbury ’58, Jeff Hughes, Jimmy Mazzy, Fred Clifford ’58 and Tom Boates perform during Williams’ Annual Meeting of the Society of Alumni in June 2023. Photograph by Roman Iwasiwka