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Jazz in Lacey

Award-winning Jazz Ambassadors bringing their sound to Lacey

The Jazz Ambassadors feature four, count them, four trombones. Photo credit:

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For John Theine, the news about the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors coming to Lacey was a double blessing.

First, Theine, the band director at River Ridge High School who scheduled the concert, will be able to hear the jazzy sound himself in person. Second, and more importantly, the community will be able to enjoy a toe-tapping good time April 10 at River Ridge's gym.

"We're so stoked about this," Theine said. "We've been on cloud nine since October when they agreed to come to our school and do a concert."

The 90-minute, Sunday afternoon concert begins at 3 p.m.

"It's like having the Duke Ellington band or Benny Goodman band come to town and drop by our school and do a concert for us," Theine said.

And the jazzy, feel-good concert is affordable. It's free. To ensure there's enough seating, people going to the concert have to get tickets by going online at and click on the band's schedule.

The Jazz Ambassadors, who are based in Washington, D.C. and are made up active-duty Army, are the best of the best. It's a nationwide search when they have openings.

"They basically take the best of the best who are active and enlisted in the Army," Theine said. "It's the pinnacle of the Army musicians nationwide."

The 19-member band, which includes five saxophones, five trumpets, four trombones, two guitars, one drum, one piano and one vocalist, is the best of the best. Many of the band members have been with them for a long time. The band's pianist is Master Sgt. Timothy Young, who has been with the Jazz Ambassadors since 1998. Master Sgt. Michael Johnston has played trumpet for the Jazz Ambassadors since 2000 and has performed and recorded with legendary performers like Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Severinsen, Della Reese, Natalie Cole and the Count Basie Orchestra.

The Jazz Ambassadors travel the country and stick to a busy schedule. Since March 4, they will take only five days off during a 37-day stretch that takes them across California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. Their concert is a wide range of jazz from the present through the ages.

"They are basically choosing music from each major era of jazz," Theine said. "It should be really cool."

This award-winning band has played around the world. In addition to playing in all 50 states, the Jazz Ambassadors, which was formed in 1969, have played in Canada, Mexico, Japan, India and throughout Europe.

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