Army Jazzers travel miles, sharing music a la Miles, at Mile-High City
September 16, 2009
FORT MEADE, Md. Aca,!" Miles Davis, famous jazz musician, once remarked, Aca,!A"A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. IAca,!a,,cm still doing it.Aca,!A?
The same could be said of the Jazz AmbassadorsAca,!"AmericaAca,!a,,cs Big Band, as they are still doing it, still performing amazing jazz music, as they have been for exactly 40 years now.
The Jazz Ambassadors are heading to Denver in September, traveling 1,680 miles to hit the Mile-High City for two amazing shows that represent one phenomenal finale.
The concerts mark the bandAca,!a,,cs final performances under the baton of Marvin Hamlisch, well-known conductor and composer who has created and adapted more than forty motion picture scores, including Aca,!A"The Way We Were,Aca,!A? Aca,!A"The Sting,Aca,!A? Aca,!A"SophieAca,!a,,cs Choice,Aca,!A? and his latest effort, Aca,!A"The Informant,Aca,!A? starring Matt Damon, set to be released Sep 18.
Hamlisch has earned nearly every major award in existence, including three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globes and a Pulitzer Prize.
Not that these incredible 19 Soldier-Musicians lack awards Aca,!A| they do not. Yet, they donAca,!a,,ct play for the accolades, they play for the music.
Aca,!A"It isnAca,!a,,ct about showing off. It is about making good music, sharing good feelings with the audience,Aca,!A? noted Master Sgt. Michael Johnston, trumpeter with the Jazz Ambassadors.
Johnston is no stranger to this city.
He was born and raised in Denver and graduated from Cherry Creek High School just over 22 years ago. His life has been non-stop music, progressing seamlessly since he left his native Colorado to pursue his undergraduate degree in music from the University of North Florida (UNF).
Just a few short weeks after graduating from UNF, he earned a coveted spot as trumpeter with The United States Army Field Band.
Johnston, who has played in Denver only once in his 18 years with the Field Band, is excited to return to his hometown to join the legendary Marvin Hamlisch and the Colorado Symphony Pops Orchestra at Boettcher Concert Hall.
Aca,!A"It's fantastic to be featured with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Marvin Hamlisch in such a beautiful hall. The Colorado Symphony has always been a very professional organization, even back in the days when it was called the Denver Symphony Orchestra,Aca,!A? Johnston remarked.
Johnston is no stranger to the venue, either.
Aca,!A"I grew up listening to performers like Doc Severinsen, Peter Nero, and the Canadian Brass at Boettcher Concert Hall and even made my way backstage to meet all of them. I performed at Boettcher in high school, when the Colorado Youth Symphony called me a few times to cover some tricky Leonard Bernstein trumpet parts for them, which was fun,Aca,!A? he said.
Making JohnstonAca,!a,,cs return to Denver even sweeter is the fact that he will be mentoring Jazz band students at his old alma mater, Cherry Creek High.
Aca,!A"Getting a chance to give something back to Cherry Creek High School is a thrill for me. Our band directors were extremely gifted leaders and great human beings. I still call and email them to this day, always drawing more inspiration from their views and opinions. Cherry Creek was an outstanding school, offering a better learning environment than many colleges I've seen. I hope to inspire the students with a few stories and some quality musical interaction.Aca,!A?
Chief Warrant Officer Gordon Kippola, director of the Jazz Ambassadors, has no doubt that Johnston will be an inspiration to the high school students, remarking that Johnston continually amazes him as a musician, as a person, as an Army Soldier.
Aca,!A"Johnston is absolutely one of the finest soloists in a band full of world class improvisers. He is the best of the best. His ability to create an endless succession of fascinating melodies astonishes me at every performance. His keen, yet understated, sense of humor is evident in the way he flawlessly weaves musical quotes into his solos. Although supremely gifted, he is a quiet, modest man; a noncommissioned officer who exemplifies Army values,Aca,!A? affirmed Kippola.
Johnston, who can play his trumpet in the upper register with ease, is pleased to be able to end the Jazz Ambassador symphony concerts on a high note, and do so in the Mile High City.
Johnston envisioned performing as a professional trumpet player since he was 11 years old.
He has accomplished his dream, and he doesnAca,!a,,ct want to awaken from that dream just yet.
To learn more about The United States Army Field Band, visit our website at www.armyfieldband.com.