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Dimensions in Blue poses for a photo after a performance in Sun City, NV in May, 2010.
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Dimensions in Blue tours Nevada and Arizona

Posted 6/1/2010   Updated 6/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by A1C Ryan Leatherman
502 ABW/MD

6/1/2010 - Lackland AFB, TX -- My friend and I are both over seventy years old, and the concert brought back many pleasant memories from our younger days. We only wish we could hear more live big band music.
James Gaily, Kingman Elks Lodge #468

Crowds in Nevada and Arizona were treated to a memorable series of concerts presented by Band of the West's jazz ensemble, Dimensions in Blue, and its popular music group, Warhawk. During its recent tour, the band traveled to Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, and Bullhead City, performing classic and contemporary big band music, rock favorites of yesterday and today, and presenting clinics for students at several area high schools.

Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Kenny Drefke, saxophonist and Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of both ensembles, said it was a pleasure for the band to return to an area it had not been for several years. He spoke of the high level at which Dimensions in Blue played, and of how fortunate the Band of the West is to have a full big band jazz ensemble. The group was delighted to welcome back a former member, bassist Master Sergeant (MSgt) Jon Packard, who returned from the Air Force Band of the Pacific in Japan for the tour.

Dimensions in Blue's program included great swingin' arrangements of two classics from the American songbook. Mark Taylor's version of The Song Is You featured solos from two of the newest members of the band, Airman First Class (A1C) Ryan Leatherman on saxophone and A1C Ken Jones on trumpet. Frank Foster's In a Mellow Tone, originally recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra, highlighted the skills of pianist MSgt Darrin Dziergowski, trombonist MSgt Don Marchand, and the saxophone section. The band also performed A1C Leatherman's arrangement of Have You Met Miss Jones, which showcased the masterful soloing of saxophonist Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Cody Brown.

Guitarist A1C Jesse Thompson wowed audiences as the featured soloist on Pat Metheny's See the World. The title was apropos for A1C Thompson, who was on his final tour with the band before he "sees the world" as a member of the Air Force Band of the Pacific stationed in Hawaii.

A highlight of the tour for the band was having the opportunity to work with the students at Kingman and Lake Havasu High Schools. Dimensions in Blue members encouraged and inspired these young musicians through clinics and performances at the schools. They also presented an all-school concert for the students in Kingman, no doubt showcasing the Air Force to the Airmen of the future.

Dimensions in Blue vocalist SSgt Mary Beth McFann captivated audiences at every stop on the tour. Her performances of Cole Porter's Miss Otis Regrets were breath-taking, and her interpretation of jazz tunes Bluesette and It's a Brand New Day, and Stevie Wonder's Love's in Need of Love, kept the crowds on the edge of their seats. She was joined in Warhawk by vocalist Senior Airman (SrA) Melissa Crews, where together they brought the house down as they sang popular tunes from the 1960s through today.

No Dimensions in Blue concert would be complete without saluting our troops serving both past and present. SSgt McFann's rendition of America the Beautiful drew tears and cheers from the audience each night. The band also paid tribute to the music of Major Glenn Miller and his Army Air Corps band of the 1940s. TSgt Drefke took audiences on a nostalgic journey with his clarinet on Miller's theme song, Moonlight Serenade. And of course, no Dimensions in Blue concert would be complete without a performance of Miller's In the Mood. The band also featured SSgt Rob Karns on another big band classic, Duke Ellington's Cottontail.

Dimensions in Blue's tour to Nevada and Arizona featured a wide variety of musical styles that catered to any and every musical taste, thrilling and captivating audiences all along the way. They inspired the next generation of great musicians and gave many future Airmen a glimpse of what Air Force life is all about. The band is looking forward to performances later this summer, where they will once again enthusiastically represent the excellence of the United States Air Force.

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