The Jazz Ambassadors—US Army’s Musical EmissariesSeptember 6, 2017
The US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors are coming to Bloomington for two free shows at the end of October. Formed in 1969, the group is the youngest of the US Army Field Band’s three programs. The Concert Band celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016; the Soldiers’ Chorus turns 60 this year; and the Jazz Ambassadors program has yet to reach 50. Despite its relative youth, the Jazz Ambassadors ensemble has managed to make some important contributions to America’s original “big band” art form.
The 19-member Jazz Ambassadors—America’s Big Band—is the US Army’s official touring big band. Like the other two ensembles, the Ambassadors have appeared in every US state, Canada, Mexico, India and throughout Europe. Unlike the others, the Ambassadors have also performed at international jazz festivals in Montreux, Switzerland; Toronto, Canada; Brussels, Belgium; and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. Through their free events, the ensembles are “musical ambassadors of the army.”
Education is another key aspect of the US Army Field Band model. The Jazz Ambassadors operates Perspectives: Resources for Jazz Education, a program that provides free recordings (of varying difficulty) for jazz educators and their students. Each recording comes with printable parts, and written solos for inexperienced improvisers.
In 2001, the Jazz Ambassadors recorded an album of original music from stand-out jazz composer and arranger Sammy Nestico. The album, Sammy Nestico: The Soldier Sessions, was professionally recorded and mastered. The individual recordings are also free to music educators through the Jazz Ambassadors’ Perspectives program.
When touring, the Jazz Ambassadors’ concerts are designed to entertain all types of audiences. They have a diverse repertoire that includes big band swing, bebop, Latin, contemporary jazz, familiar standards, Dixieland and even patriotic selections. Many arrangements allow the Ambassadors to highlight gifted soloists and creative talent.
The Jazz Ambassadors have a busy fall 2017 touring schedule, with stops in Area 5—the upper Midwest including Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The Ives Auditorium is their only stop in Minnesota, so don’t miss out!
Click here to reserve your (free) seats on October 29 at 2:00 p.m. or October 30 at 7:00 p.m. Though the concert is free, tickets are required. To order group tickets, please call 952-948-6506.
Here’s a preview of what’s in store: