Monthly Musings – April 5, 2017

Our United States service jazz bands

Last night I heard the US Army’s premier jazz group, The Jazz Ambassadors. As a part of their tour, they performed at the University of North Texas. This was very appropriate since ten members of the band are former North Texas students. I think there are a couple of dozen North Texas grads playing in bands like this one, The Airmen of Note, The Navy Commodores, etc. Naturally, all of our faculty are very proud of their success!

The program last night was outstanding and included a wonderful variety of music that displayed their musical maturity very well. Ensemble sections were tight, the balance and tone were excellent and the solos were interesting to listen to. I hope and I am pretty sure that this band must be inspiring to many young people who hear it. This is one of the most important facets of these groups – to create enthusiasm and passion for American jazz!

I am very proud of the fact that our nation supports the performance of American music, especially jazz with these groups. In this sense, our country is fostering the cause of not only jazz but the arts in general and our cultural heritage. The activity of these service groups reminds me of the power of Radio Free Europe during the cold war. It is a very positive representation of America to the world!

It was and is always great to see former students like Andrew Layton, Tim Young, Pat Shook and Kevin Watt. It is extremely gratifying to me to see their success and growth as musicians to the highest standards of performance. And I am happy for them to have a career making music, raising their families and getting benefits for being artists. Why there isn’t more of this kind of government support for the arts is a concern.

One of the things I enjoy about Facebook is the opportunity to keep up to date with my friends, their professional activities and their families. Some water has gone under the bridge since some of these guys were wet behind the ears and just beginning to show potential. Now, it is fun to see their families, hear about their musical activities in and outside of the band and to see them realize their potential as human beings.

So, when you have an opportunity to see a US service concert band, chorus or jazz band, don’t miss it! It is your tax dollars at work and, thankfully so far, they are being channeled in a really good direction!

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