PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- When the Army's jazz ensemble swings through Monterey, Monterey takes notice.The U.S. Army Field Band's "Jazz Ambassadors" played to a packed house at the 1250-seat Golden West Theater in the California central coast city March 17."I love jazz. I love music. That's my era, the 1940's," Cam Schure, who arrived early to ensure she had a seat in the acoustical "sweet spot" at the center of the house, said. The lifelong-Monterey resident has a brother who is retired from the Army.She said the community also enjoys close ties to the military through the two accredited military colleges based here; the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, located on the Presidio, and the Naval Postgraduate School, also in Monterey."We're so lucky to have them here, they bring so much to the community," she said.
The "Jazz Ambassadors" travel thousands of miles each year to present jazz to enthusiastic audiences throughout the nation and around the world.As a component of the U.S. Army Field Band of Washington D.C., the Jazz Ambassadors weave the story of the Army and history of jazz music in America in performances presented at venues across America and around the world."What we're doing here is representing the professionalism of Soldiers throughout the Army," Master Sgt. Marva Lewis, the band's featured vocalist, told audience members.The band's concerts draw on classic sounds, from Big Band to Dixieland, and this performance drew music lovers of all ages."I love jazz," Spec. Caleb Norfleet, a Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center student, said. "I played jazz throughout high school, and then started listening to big band and different artists, John Coltrane and all that."Sisters Jaida Glazier, age 10, and Imani Glazier, age 11, are budding musicians attending their first concert."Both of them are in the band. My oldest plays the bass, and my youngest is learning the piano and plays clarinet," their father, Marvin Glazier, said. "I brought them with me because they're both musicians, and I want them to hear their instruments being played by the best."The band's visit was hosted by the Fort Ord Retiree Council, a non-profit organization that promotes the welfare and quality of life for current and former service members in the Monterey area. Its travel expenses are paid by the Army, while sponsoring organizations arrange venues, tickets, and pre-publicity.The council distributed more than 500 posters, and local media outlets donated more than 200 print and broadcast public service announcements for the free performance. The theater's owners donated use of the concert hall, and managed the box office."It's a grassroots thing," said Otto Neely, a retired Army chief warrant officer and council member who coordinated the publicity effort. "And it's been beautiful, to see the community come together to make this happen."The Jazz Ambassadors west coast tour continues with performances scheduled in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Idaho through April 12. For a complete schedule, see "related links" for a link to the "Jazz Ambassadors" home page.More info:As a component of the U.S. Army Field Band of Washington D.C., the Jazz Ambassadors weave the story of the Army and history of jazz music in America in performances presented at venues across America and around the world. The "Jazz Ambassadors," the U.S. Army's premier touring big band, travels thousands of miles each year to present jazz to enthusiastic audiences throughout the nation and around the world.Learn more about the band, how to sponsor a performance, hear them play in the online "Listening Room," and find a schedule of upcoming performances at http://www.armyfieldband.com/pages/ensembles/ja.html.