Wednesday night the US Army Jazz Ambassadors blew everyone away with a phenomenal performance at Emens Auditorium!
As I’ve mentioned before, I love jazz which is why it was a no-brainer for me to attend this concert. From Contemporary Jazz to Big Band, the night was eventful from start to finish. Under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Wood, Director of the Jazz Ambassadors, they started the concert with a jazz version of the Star Spangled Banner, sung by the band’s vocalist Alexis Cole.
The concert then took off with music by the likes of Clifford Brown, and Alexis Cole paid an homage to Billie Holiday by singing one of her songs. Something special that happened on stage before the next song was when Third Trombone Player Staff Sergeant Kyle Johnson gave a shout out to his trombone instructor who happened to be in the audience. He then went on to play a solo afterward. Then some of the students from the Jazz Division joined the band on-stage for a song. I thought this experience was incredibly amazing for these young students to experience, and I’m sure it will be a moment they will always remember.
The audience, myself included, went crazy for the band! The music gave me chills and Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Wood interacted quite a bit with the audience, which made the concert very personable. He spoke about the importance of great music education and why it’s so important for our country to have. What I thought was so wonderful was when he discussed their online program called Perspectives: Resources for Jazz Education. Perspectives includes original sheet music for the Jazz Ambassadors that are available to download for free. Music accessibility is so vital and is one of the reasons I love the organization I serve, and the mention of this incredible program was truly touching. Before getting into the final portion of the concert, Chief Warrant Officer thanked the band’s truck drivers who are two army veterans and to the people in service who could not be there. He then imparted some wisdom upon the audience: “Do not limit yourself to your own imagination.”
As much as I wanted to concert to keep going, the last part of the concert was my favorite. They played the songs of the United States Military Branches (Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and of course the Army). What was so incredible was when Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Wood told the audience to stand up if they knew someone who served in each branch. Looking out at the audience, so many people were standing up especially for the Air Force. I stood up for my “pop-pop” who served in the Navy and for my father, my Uncle Matt, and my grampy who all served in the Army. Alexis Cole then came out to sing a jazz and contemporary version of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. Then the concert wrapped up with one of my personal favorite songs “Sing Sing Sing”! Being a clarinet player in high school, I was so excited to see a clarinet player rocking out Benny Goodman’s solo! The night was truly unforgettable and I hope I can see them perform again someday.
To watch and listen to their videos, be sure to follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jazzambassadors/