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GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- The U.S. Army Field Band’s Jazz Ambassadors perform at a special Veterans Day concert at the Honeywell Center in nearby Wabash, Ind., Nov. 12. Since its formation in March 1946, the Field Band has appeared in all fifty states and in more than thirty countries on four continents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

Jazz Ambassadors to perform at Pitt State

The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors will make the Bicknell their home Monday, Oct. 29. In addition to their personnel, the concert will feature three Pittsburg State students. 

Founded in 1969, the Jazz Ambassadors are part of the United States Army Field Band and considered the United States Army’s premier jazz ensemble. The 19-piece ensemble has performed a wide variety of repertoire including big band standard charts, solo features for vocalists, contemporary jazz pieces, and original compositions by members of the Jazz Ambassadors.  

“Sitting in for the concert will be a blast …” Ryan Amick, junior in music education, said. “… I love jazz, and I love performing jazz…” 

Amick’s saxophone professor, Joanne Britz, selected him out of her students to perform with the Jazz Ambassadors at the suggestion of the director of the Pitt State jazz program, Robert Kehle. 

“The Jazz Ambassadors asked (Kehle) for student performers and then Kehle asked the studio teachers who they would recommend …” Amick said. 

The Jazz Ambassadors and other military music ensembles, as part of their service, perform all over the world, both in the United States and in foreign territory. They have given concerts in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and Europe. In addition to performing as a solo ensemble, they routinely perform with major symphony orchestras, such as the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Cincinatti Pops Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. 

“What a great band!” Composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch said of the jazz orchestra. “I can’t imagine better ambassadors for our country.” 

The students invited to perform alongside the Jazz Ambassadors look forward to the performance to gain further experience. 

“I think it’s really awesome that the Jazz Ambassadors asked for student performers,” Amick said. “Performing with them is going to be a great opportunity to learn what it’s like and what it takes to be a jazz musician of that caliber.” 

Amick will perform with Chris Goddard, senior in music education, and Henry Zimmermann, senior in music education. 

“Being asked to sit in with a premier service band like the Jazz Ambassadors is a huge honor,” Goddard said. 

Goddard also plays with the local jazz ensemble, the Crossroads Jazz Orchestra directed by PSU trumpet professor Todd Hastings. 

“I’ll have an opportunity to play next to some of the best jazz players in the country in what I now consider my hometown,” Goddard said. 

Goddard, originally from Olathe, Kansas, will give his senior trombone recital Monday, Dec. 3, in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall. 

“It’s very exciting that a group of this caliber is coming to Pittsburg State,” Maddy Beasley, senior in music education, said. 

Beasley plays tenor saxophone in the PSU jazz program, in the One ‘o Clock Jazz Band, under the direction of Robert Kehle. 

“My favorite part about Pitt State jazz is the opportunities that it brings,” Beasley said. “We get to play in concerts with a lot of really cool musicians, and we get to explore unique repertoire. There’s just a lot of different options and experiences.”

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