Soldiers jazz up Basra in Women's Day salute
March 10, 2010
BASRA, Iraq (Army News Service, March 9, 2010) -- Female Soldiers from the 1st Infantry DivisionAca,!a,,cs Aca,!A"Spirit of the FirstAca,!A? chorus and band backed by the divisionAca,!a,,cs jazz combo took to the coffeehouse stage here for International WomenAca,!a,,cs Day and a WomenAca,!a,,cs History Month salute to legendary ladies of jazz March 8.
Aca,!A"It was a great event for Women's History Month,Aca,!A? said Sgt. 1st Class Caleb P. Underwood, the equal opportunity noncommissioned officer for the 17th Fires Brigade.
Aca,!A"What really impressed me was the quality singing of the females who performed. It was like you were at jazz nightclub in Las Vegas,Aca,!A? Underwood said.
Maj. Christine Pacheco, the divisionAca,!a,,cs equal opportunity program officer, said, Aca,!A"This was a celebration of the special women who through their music made our culture richer.Aca,!A?
For example, Sgt. Tiana C. Schneider, saluted Bessie Smith with Aca,!A"Saint Louis Blues,Aca,!A? Dinah Washington with Aca,!A"What a Difference a Day Made,Aca,!A? and Dianna Krall with Aca,!A"All Or Nothing At All.Aca,!A?
Also, Staff Sgt. Tracy Birdsong, honored Billy Holiday by singing Aca,!A"God Bless The Child,Aca,!A? and Ella Fitzgerald with Aca,!A"It DonAca,!a,,ct Mean a Thing [If It AinAca,!a,,ct Got That Swing].Aca,!A?
The evening was hosted by Staff Sgt. Frank D. McCaskill, a trumpet player and noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the divisionAca,!a,,cs 17-Soldier jazz ensemble.
McCaskill, who said he grew up listening to Fitzgerald, kept the night moving along and shared with the audience biographical sketches of each of the women featured.
Aca,!A"Combining music and the equal opportunity mission is a great idea,Aca,!A? said Sgt. 1st Class Randy E. Hagin, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the combo and the groupAca,!a,,cs drummer. Aca,!A"We did a similar show during Black History Month, so we are building on that partnership.Aca,!A?
Hagin said when he drew up the playlist, he chose popular songs associated with the great women jazz vocalists in order to make the program more accessible to Soldiers who are more casual jazz listeners.
Joining Hagin in the combo were Staff Sgt. Gregory P. Ybarra, trumpet; Sgt. Brendan J. Osweiler, keyboard; Sgt. Kerry J. Burkhart, guitar; Sgt. Ryan A. Couvillion, bass and Sgt. James D. Shank, tenor sax.
The combo also honored female jazz music writers with their signature compositions.
Aca,!A"Carla Bley is really not known now, but she is still very well known among musicians; this was a chance to put her name out there,Aca,!A? Hagin said. The combo played BleyAca,!a,,cs Aca,!A"Sing Me Softly of the Blues.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"The other composer we featured, Lil Hardin, was Louis ArmstrongAca,!a,,cs first wife, and she had a great influence on his music and career,Aca,!A? Hagin said.
Hardin wrote the song Aca,!A"StruttinAca,!a,,c with Some Barbeque,Aca,!A? but it is often credited to Armstrong, he said. Aca,!A"This was a chance for us to set the record straight and give her her due.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"With this program, we recognized the great jazz songstresses of the past, present, and after hearing these powerful performances, and maybe future female stars of jazz,Aca,!A? Pacheco said. Aca,!A"This division has great talent, and nights like this are a chance to showcase it.Aca,!A?