Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble to perform locally
Published 10:34 am Friday, October 10, 2014
Local fans of jazz and swing music are invited to a free concert next month, which will be performed by the USAF Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble. Presented by The Tidewater News, the event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 8, beginning at 7 p.m. in Franklin High School.
Senior Airman Steve Rozek, who’s been the music director for a year and-a-half, said he’s looking forward to the ensemble’s visit.
“We’re a 15-piece group — four saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets and three rhythm sections,” he said. “There’s been a jazz component since the Heritage of America Band began. There are also ceremonial and concert bands. We’ve been at Langley [Air Force Base] since 1946.”
In addition to being the director, Rozek brings his own musical skills.
“I consider myself a saxophonist primarily, but I also play the flute and clarinet,” he said. “I love to play the tenor [sax], but I can play the others.”
Although his grandfather was a jazz guitarist, Rozek credits one of the instrument’s great performers for inspiring him to the saxophone.
“I was about 10 and heard a record of Charlie Parker, and I’ve wanted to do that ever since,” he said about the start of his musical journey. “It’s definitely been a passion.”
He added that his daughter’s middle name is Parker.
After 3 and-one-half years of service in the Air Force, Rozek took a break and then taught music at a boarding college in Philadelphia and also doing gigs for himself. Then he decided to return to the service.
“It’s a great opportunity to play music and serve your country at the same time…and perfect your craft,” Rozek said. “You get a chance to connect with the audience in a very patriotic way. It’s a big blessing.”
The ensemble performs from Maine to Carolina, and does outreach concerts 90 to 110 days a year.
The audience can expect to hear music from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman and Glen Miller. Featured modern groups could include the Mingus Big Band, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra and John Fedchock’s New York Big Band.
There will also be an armed services medley to honor veterans.
“We like to do a lot of different things,” he said. “One thing we’ve been trying is more modern jazz, such as Tom Harrell. We also do Radiohead in a jazz style.”
Tony Clark, publisher of The Tidewater News, said, “We’re thrilled to be able to sponsor the Rhythm in Blue Ensemble, and are proud to play even a small role in bringing this type of entertainment to our community. The Christmas concert last December was so well received, we jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Air Force again. It’s an honor for us and a great opportunity for our community.”
The school is located at 310 Crescent Dr., Franklin.
For more details, you can call The Tidewater News at 562-3187, or visit; www.heritageofamericaband.af.mil or www.facebook.com/heritageofamericaband; the group also has a Twitter account.