Patriotism and jazz to meld July 10 |

Patriotism and jazz to meld July 10

U.S. Army Field Band component to perform free concert

Pat Callahan

The Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band will be performing a free concert in Craig on July 10.

The 19-piece ensemble of Army musicians from Washington D.C. will combine to present the sounds of pop, patriotism, big band and modern jazz music at 7:30 p.m. at Craig City Park.

“It will be a chance to hear one of the best remaining big bands in the country,” said Sgt. First Class Darrin Blume, the U.S. Army Field Band tour coordinator.

Blume said the concert is sure to include a little bit of everything.

“There’s music and styles for all ages,” Blume said. “There will be big band-era music, instrumental music, a female soloist and patriotic music.”

The Jazz Ambassadors, which are one of four components of the U.S. Army Field Band, was established in 1969 by Major Hal Gibson after he determined that the demand for big band music was increasing.

Gibson, the commander of the field band, proceeded to put together a troop, known as the Studio Band, to tour as the Army’s official jazz ensemble.

For the next 19 years, the band traveled to each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico.

During that time, the band endured two name changes, finally settling on the Jazz Ambassadors

in 1979.

More recently, the Jazz Ambassadors headed overseas to perform at the International Trade Fair in New Delhi, India, in 1989. The trip included additional performances in Bangalore, Pune, Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.

That summer, the band was also invited to perform at several jazz festivals across Europe, including stops in France and Switzerland. At the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Jazz Ambassadors were the first military band to play on the main stage.

In 1992, the band was the first group from the Field Band to extensively tour Mexico, and in 1993, the Jazz Ambassadors went to Japan for a 10-day tour.

All the members of the Jazz Ambassadors are enlisted in the Army, and all are on active duty.

The band’s musicians were selected through auditions, and come from universities and professional music organizations. Alumni of the band have performed with the big bands of Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Mel Lewis and Doc Severinsen.

Additionally, Blume said, member experience includes stints with the Cincinnati Pops and Detroit Symphony.

The event is sponsored by the Craig Daily Press and radio station KBCR FM 96.9.

Craig Daily Press General Manager Samantha Johnston said the concert should provide a unique opportunity to hear and experience the sounds and show that accompany big band music.

The Jazz Ambassadors are currently in Canada performing, but will be in town Wednesday night.

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