By Lisa R. RhodesAugust 29, 2013
The U.S. Army Field Band's final concert of the summer was a sublime mix of jazz, rock, country, pop, orchestral and patriotic music -- genres for every age group and musical taste.
"It was really fun," said Jay Dietrich, 12, a student at MacArthur Middle School who attended the concert with his music teacher Diana Riccobene. "The people that play the drums are the best people I've ever heard."
The two-hour concert, which ended the Field Band's annual summer series, was held Saturday evening at Constitution Park under a clear twilight sky.
About 600 people attended the program, which featured all of the Field Band's ensembles -- the Concert Band, Soldiers' Chorus, Jazz Ambassadors and Volunteers.
The Jazz Ambassadors opened the concert with the "Army Song," and was followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Master Sgt. Marva Lewis, lead vocalist for the Jazz Ambassadors.
"We have beautiful weather here tonight," said Garrison Commander Col. Brian P. Foley, who welcomed an audience of Field Band alumni, family members and friends as well as the public. "We have the very best musicians in the U.S. Army."
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the Military District of Washington, spoke briefly about resiliency and the Field Band and how it adjusted its touring schedule due to the sequester, which curtailed the organization's traditional spring touring schedule throughout the country.
The Field Band was scheduled to perform 139 concerts for its spring tours throughout the Southeast. The Field Band Operations Groups, however, was forced to cancel the performances.
The tour was quickly rebooked within 100 miles of Fort Meade, and featured 149 local ensemble clinics, master classes and ceremonial support.
"We can all learn from their example," Buchanan said.
The concert resumed with several highlights from the Jazz Ambassadors including "Big Swing Face," a jazzy foot-stomper that featured a piano solo by Master Sgt. Timothy Young and tenor saxophone solos by Staff Sgt. Brandford Danho and Staff Sgt. Dustin Mollick.
Lewis then gave a soulful rendition of "A House Is Not a Home," a stirring R&B ballad made popular by the late Luther Vandross.
The Volunteers followed with "Magic Man," the 1976 rock hit by Heart that featured haunting vocals by Sgt. 1st Class April Boucher, the Volunteers' lead vocalist, and a ripping electric guitar solo by Sgt. 1st. Class Thomas Lindsey.
The band also performed a rendition of "Mama's Broken Heart," originally sung by country singer Miranda Lambert, and closed the set with a performance of the Allman Brothers' country hit "Ramblin Man." The song featured electric guitar solos by Lindsey and Master Sgt. John Lamirande, who also sang vocals.
Col. Timothy Holtan, commander and conductor of the Field Band, led the Concert Band in a performance that featured popular love songs from the 1970s and '80s sung by Master Sgt. Victor Cenales and Staff Sgt. Tracy Labrecque, vocalists from the Soldiers' Chorus.
The Concert Band also was led by previous Field Band commanders Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, commander of the U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own, and retired Col. William E. Clark.
During the concert's two intermissions, the audience was treated to a demonstration of a synchronized rifle drill performed by four senior members of the U.S. Army Drill Team, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) and a performance by the Dixieland Band, a small ensemble of the Jazz Ambassadors that played selections of early jazz.
In the finale, Holtan led the Concert Band and Soldiers' Chorus in the "Armed Forces Salute" and Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," the Field Band's signature ending for the series. An electronic sound device was used to simulate cannon fire during the Overture.
Riccobene, whose father Sgt. Maj. Joseph Riccobene served with the Field Band for 24 years, said she grew up listening to the musicians practice.
"It inspired me to become a professional musician and music teacher," she said.
Riccobene, a percussionist and newly enlisted staff sergeant with the Maryland Defense Force Band, said she and Jay had a great time.
"We think it was terrific," she said.