Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy!
Tomorrow (Saturday) is special.
President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.
This week, military music in the spotlight.
Let’s get started.
The Airmen of Note is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., it is one of six musical ensembles that comprise The U.S. Air Force Band. Created in 1950 to continue the tradition of Major Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces dance band, the current band consists of 18 active duty Airmen musicians including one vocalist.
From the website of the Great American Songbook:
Ira Gershwin wrote in his memoir Lyrics on Several Occasions that the final (or fifth) version of the music for the song “Strike Up the Band” was written by his brother George lying in bed during the middle of the night. It was the spring of 1927 and the brothers were in Atlantic City for a meeting with Edgar Selwyn, the producer of their show in progress, also titled Strike Up the Band. Ira had gone out to get the Sunday paper and upon returning to their adjoining rooms and seeing no light under the door assumed George was asleep; however, the door opened and the pajama clad composer informed his lyricist brother that he’d got it. When Ira pressed him to explain the “it,” he replied, “Why the march of course, I think I’ve finally got it. Come on in.”
Apparently George had thought he’d gotten it on four previous occasions but this time he assured Ira this was it, even though the first four were written while he was at the piano, this one in his head while he was in bed. George sat down at the piano (He always had a piano in his hotel room.) and played it almost exactly as the song is now known. Ira pressed his brother that this would indeed be “it,” that there would be no more “maybe I’ll come up with something better[s].” The fifth try did, in fact, turn out to be “it,” Ira went ahead and “wrote it up.”
The Jazz Ambassadors is the United States Army’s premier big band. This 19-member ensemble, formed in 1969, performs both at home and abroad playing America’s only true art form, jazz.
The band has appeared in all fifty states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and throughout Europe, and has been featured in concerts with major orchestras, including the Detroit and Baltimore symphonies.
The famous “Sing, Sing, Sing” was written by Louis Prima but is most associated with bandleader Benny Goodman and his drummer Gene Krupa.
Helen ward, a vocalist with the band told the story that one night Krupa refused to stop drumming when he got to the end of the third chorus.
No problem. Goodman merely picked up his clarinet and soloed together with Krupa.
It’s arguably the biggest tune of the Swing era.
Now it’s time for a wonderful slice of Americana.
From their official website:
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band’s mission is to perform for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, the Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Today, “The President’s Own” is celebrated for its role at the White House and its dynamic public performances, which total more than 500 annually.
No other musical organization can claim the heritage or historic precedence of the United States Marine Band. Since the Marine Band made its White House debut in 1801, it has functioned as “The President’s Own” band. As such, the Marine Band is the band of the President and serves the office of the presidency in a non-partisan fashion.
Aaron Copland is one of the most famous American composers of all time. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and went to France as a teenager to study music.
Copland wrote music with a very “American” sound. One of Copland’s best known compositions is “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Copland wrote it after the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra asked several composers to write fanfares during World War II. Copland’s music has become a great part of American history. He chose the title because he wanted to honor every person who worked for victory, including those who weren’t on the battlefield.
Prepare yourself for something totally different.
We opened with the Airmen of Note, and told you they’re one of six musical ensembles that comprise The U.S. Air Force Band.
One of the others is Max Impact, the premier rock band of the United States Air Force. The six-piece band is stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.
Max Impact debuted this next song, “American Airman,” in front of the highest ranking members of the Air Force, along with other distinguished visitors from government and industry, at the Outstanding Airmen of the Year banquet at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 14, 2015.
The song was written by Max Impact members Tech. Sgt. Nalani Quintello and Senior Master Sgt. Matt Ascione. According to Quintello, they were inspired to write the song by the desire to “incorporate every aspect of being an American Airman.
“We all raised our right hand and swore to defend our country with our lives,” Quintello said. “We’re all fighting for the same thing on the same team, and that’s what brings us so close together. We’re one big family. One of my favorite lines in the song is, ‘We stand together on freedom’s ride. Brothers and sisters you can never divide.'”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend. And thank a member of the military.
We close with this clip from Memorial Day, 2008. The National Symphony Orchestra is under the direction of maestro Erich Kunzel.