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Dimensions in Blue
Airman 1st Class Ken Jones and Airman 1st Class Ryan Leatherman perform with Dimensions in Blue in Rio Rancho, New Mexico in October, 2010.
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Dimensions in Blue dazzles audiences throughout the Southwest

Posted 11/2/2010   Updated 11/2/2010 Email story   Print story


by A1C Ryan Leatherman
Band of the West

11/2/2010 - Albuquerque, New Mexico -- The Band of the West's Dimensions in Blue jazz ensemble wowed audiences in New Mexico and Texas during a busy month of performances. October began with the band spending three days at the International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, an event that brings tens of thousands of hot air balloon enthusiasts to the area every year. Crowds enjoyed music in a wide range of jazz and popular music styles as the sun set on each day of ballooning.

The voice of TSgt Christin Foley became one of the most recognized sounds of the festival. On this, her first tour with Dimensions in Blue, TSgt Foley kicked off the festivities each morning with a solo performance of the National Anthem. With the band, she delighted festival-goers with the music of Queen Latifah and Stevie Wonder. Her stirring renditions of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and America the Beautiful brought tears to many eyes, and her version of Lauren Kinhan's Here is my Avalon gave a modern jazz flair to the show. Dimensions in Blue is thrilled to count her among its members!

While in the Albuquerque area, Dimensions in Blue also presented a community relations concert at V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho. During the concert the band welcomed new guitarist MSgt Steve Wilson to the group as the soloist on Pat Metheny's See the World, and also performed several staples of the big band repertoire. Buddy Rich's Love for Sale and Frank Foster's Blues in Hoss Flat showcased the talents of A1C Ken Jones on trumpet. Mean to Me, arranged by A1C Ryan Leatherman, featured the saxophone section on a finger bustin' soli. And no DIB performance would be complete without a tribute to the late Major Glenn Miller and his Army Air Corps Band of the 1940s. The band featured group leader TSgt Ken Drefke on clarinet on Miller's Mission to Moscow and closed the concert with the incomparable In the Mood.

In addition, Dimensions in Blue conducted a clinic with the band students of Cleveland High School. Dimensions in Blue exchanged performances with the students, worked with each section of the band, and gave them a glimpse at life in the United States Air Force.

No sooner did Dimensions in Blue catch their breath after traveling to New Mexico than they were on the road again, this time for two performances at the Texas Jazz Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was a pleasure for the band to play for the crowd of jazz lovers that support the festival year after year, and the program, selected by musical director and lead trumpeter SrA Jason Smith, was a hit. Dimensions in Blue was privileged to be joined by New York jazz trumpeter Marvin Stamm for one of these performances. His lyrical phrasing and technical prowess brought the crowd to its feet during solos on Pete McGuiness's Spring Song and A1C Leatherman's arrangement of Have You Met Miss Jones. MSgt Darrin Dziergowski on piano and SSgt Rob Karns on saxophone were featured as the band paid tribute to the late great trumpeter Don Ellis with a performance of Poet. Gordon Goodwin's Get in Line showcased the funky stylings of MSgt Doug Bennett on the bass. And MSgt Wilson and saxophonist SSgt Cody Brown mesmerized the audience with their rendition of Mike Stern's Chromozone.

As so often happens in the Air Force, the end of this tour meant that it was time to say goodbye to several members of Dimensions in Blue. Trombonists MSgt Don Marchand and TSgt Heather Kirschner will soon be leaving the Band of the West for other assignments. MSgt Dziergowski is moving to the Band of the West's popular music group, Top Flight. And trumpeter (T)Sgt Shane Kibbey has been selected for a position with the Public Affairs office. Their leadership and musicianship in Dimensions in Blue will be missed, and we wish them all the best.

After a busy month filled with memorable performances for fantastic audiences, Dimensions in Blue is excited to hit the road again. Whether playing classic big band tunes, popular music favorites, or the newest sounds in modern jazz, Dimensions in Blue displays the excellence of the U.S. Air Force in every performance. Look for them soon at a venue near you!

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