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U.S. Army’s Jazz Ambassadors to perform free concert Monday in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — The premier touring big band for the U.S. Army will stop here on Monday for a free concert.

The Jazz Ambassadors will perform at 7:30 p.m. at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Concert Hall. The concert is sponsored by the Crane School of Music with media sponsorship by the Watertown Daily Times.

The band’s conductor will be making a return to the north country. Chief Warrant Officer 4 William S. McCulloch commanded the 10th Mountain Division Band from 2007 to 2009. His tenure here included a deployment to Iraq in 2008. He enlisted in the Army in 1991 as a percussionist and was appointed as an Army bandmaster in 2000.

“There’s a very good chance I’ll see some old friends up there,” Chief Warrant Officer McCulloch said last week after a concert in Torrington, Conn.

“The audiences have been fantastic,” he said of the band’s tour. “We’ve had enthusiastic crowds everywhere.”

The Jazz Ambassadors go on tour each spring and autumn and also tour for three weeks in the summer for a total of approximately 100 days on the road annually.

The band covers a variety of music, Chief Warrant Officer McCulloch said, and styles itself on the Count Basie Orchestra, one of the most prominent jazz groups of the swing era.

“But we cover 100 years of jazz history in each performance,” Chief Warrant Officer McCulloch said. “We play everything from Dixieland to jazz to some modern arrangements.”

The more modern arrangements include the works of Stevie Wonder, the late American jazz saxophonist Charlie Barnett and the late jazz pianist Thelonious Monk.

“We also have some original compositions from members of the band,” Chief Warrant Officer McCulloch said.

The band closes each performance with “The Armed Forces Salute.”

The band consists of 19 members. The entourage also consists of two drivers and an audio engineer.

Since its formation in 1969, the Jazz Ambassadors has appeared in all 50 states and throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Members of the Jazz Ambassadors are selected by highly competitive audition and represent some of the finest musical talent in America, the Army says.

Notable performances include concerts at international jazz festivals in Montreux, Switzerland; Newport, R.I; Toronto, Ontario; Brussels, Belgium, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. In 1995, the Jazz Ambassadors performed in England, Wales, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The band also has been featured in joint concerts with major orchestras including the Detroit and Baltimore symphonies.

The details
WHAT: The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, sponsored by the Crane School of Music, with media sponsorship by the Watertown Daily Times
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Monday in Helen M. Hosmer Hall, 44 Pierrepont Ave., at Crane School of Music, Potsdam
COST: Tickets are free, with a limit of four per request. To order tickets, call CPS at 267-2277. Tickets are distributed first-come, first-serve.
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