Jazz Heritage Series ends on a high note
By Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez, 11th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 25, 2017
ALEXANDRIA, Va. --
The U.S. Air Force Band, Airmen of Note performed their final Jazz Heritage Series concert for the year at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, Va., April 19.
“The Jazz Heritage Series is an event that has been going on for about 20 years and we have invited distinguished jazz artists to perform along with us,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Burns, U.S. Air Force Band Airmen of Note flight chief and split lead trumpeter.
The series provided an opportunity for the public to experience the Air Force’s level of professionalism and skill through concerts highlighting jazz.
In 1990, the U.S. Air Force Band established the Jazz Heritage Series, featuring the Airmen of Note in concert with legendary icons of jazz such as Rufus Reid, Joey DeFrancesco and Slide Hampton. A radio broadcast was added in 2007, expanding the dimension and appeal of the series by allowing listeners across the U.S. to enjoy performances that previously could only be appreciated by live audiences in Washington, D.C.
“These concerts are wonderful chances for the Air Force to interact with the community,” said Cheryl Smith, Jazz Heritage Series audience member. “It’s a chance to witness talented service members share their passion for music while also serving this great nation.”
Approximately 3,000 people attended this year’s series. The audience is quite diverse and ranges from Air Force Band fans to veterans to jazz enthusiast.
“This one performance advertises the Air Force image,” said Maj. Gen. Darryl W. Burke, Air Force District of Washington and 320th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “The band members are super talented and professional, so they give off a magnificent impression of the Air Force.”
This year’s series held monthly concerts from February to April. The three guest jazz performers featured were Nnenna Freelon, Peter Erskine and Marshall Gilkes.
The U.S Air Force Band ensemble’s latest performance featured Gilkes, a trombonist and composer. He was born on Joint Base Andrews, Md., and his father was a conductor in the Air Force. Gilkes is a renowned musician, having been nominated for two Grammy Awards and voted “Rising Star” by DownBeat Magazine's Critics Poll multiple occasions.
“It is such an honor to perform with this world class band,” Gilkes said. “I enjoyed the experience performing alongside service members who are just as passionate about jazz as I am.”