Jazz Heritage Series Events Page

The Airmen of Note's Jazz Heritage Series, presented by The United States Air Force Band, provides a wonderful opportunity for the public to experience the Air Force's high level of professionalism through concerts featuring masters of the only American-born art form--jazz.

2017 Jazz Heritage Series Guest Artists:
Thursday, Feb. 9  - Nnenna Freelon, critically-acclaimed vocalist 

Thursday, Mar. 23 - Peter Erskine, GRAMMY award-winning drummer
 - Tickets For Peter Erskine will be available ~ Feb 23, 2017 at 8 a.m.

Thursday, Apr. 20  - Jimmy Heath, legendary saxophonist
- Tickets For Jimmy Heath will be available ~Mar 20, 2017 at 8 a.m.

All concerts begin at 8 p.m.
Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center
4915 E Campus Dr, Alexandria, VA 22311

Concerts are FREE and open to the public ~ tickets required. Any unclaimed seats will be released to non-ticketed patrons 15 minutes prior to each performance.
Tickets are available here for these FREE concerts: http://usafband.eventbrite.com
Download the JHS Flyer here.

Nnenna Freelon

Six-time GRAMMY Award nominee Nnenna Freelon has earned a well- deserved reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer. Nnenna is no stranger to the music of the master singer -- she toured with Ray Charles as well as many other great jazz artists including Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau, George Benson and others.

She is particularly excited about her current venture as the writer, composer and producer of the original theatrical presentation of "The Clothesline Muse," a devised theatrical work of dance, music, spoken word, vibrant art and projections. "The Clothesline Muse" premiered in Philadelphia in 2013 with a national tour in 2015. Freelon made her feature film debut in "What Women Want" starring Mel Gibson.

Nnenna's talent is not limited to performing. Her TV appearance on "In Performance At the White House," celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, led to the versatile songstress/composer having a featured song on the hit TV show "Mad Men." That was followed by a new collaboration on tour with legendary guitarist Earl Klugh. In 2012, she had her first collaboration with pianist Ramsey Lewis.

Honors and awards are nothing new for Freelon. She was named a 2010
"Woman of Substance" by Bennett College for Woman and delivered the Keynote Address for the 2010 Arts Midwest Conference. Freelon is a winner of both the Billie Holiday Award from the prestigious Academie du Jazz and the Eubie Blake Award from the Cultural Crossroads Center in New York City. She was nominated twice as "Lady of Soul" by the Soul Train Awards.

Freelon has dedicated herself to educating young people, both musicians and non-musicians, and students of all ages. She toured the United States for four years as the National Spokesperson for Partners in Education. With her anthem, "One Child at a Time" found on her "Soulcall" recording, Freelon took on the task of fundraising and bringing greater attention to the needs of children in education through mentoring and the arts. In November 2011, the White House asked Freelon to headline the Asia Pacific Economic Summit for 300 presidents, premiers and heads of state from around the world. This was on the heels of receiving the YWCA of North Carolina's inaugural "Legend Award" for her outstanding artistry and her dedication to education.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Freelon received her undergraduate degree from Simmons College in Boston. Her parents and singing in the church gave the singer her first exposure to the arts; especially to the art of jazz. Ultimately she pursued a career in jazz. Her recording career has brought consistent respect and sales for the artist both for her solo albums and those on which she collaborates. Freelon has created a diverse and outstanding legacy from her creativity to her performances that have garnered an ever-growing fan base from audiences to leaders worldwide.

Peter Erskine

Peter Erskine has played the drums since the age of four and is known for his versatility and love of working in different musical contexts. He appears on over 600 albums and film scores and has won two GRAMMY Awards plus an Honorary Doctorate from the Berklee School of Music (1992).

Fifty albums have been released under his own name or as co-leader. He has played with the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson Big Bands, Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Kenny Wheeler, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Brecker Brothers, The Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, John Scofield, et al, and has appeared as a soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Frankfurt Radio, Scottish Chamber, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony, Oslo and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. Erskine premiered
the double percussion concerto "Fractured Lines," composed by Mark- Anthony Turnage, at the BBC Proms with Andrew Davis conducting, and
has collaborated frequently with Sir Simon Rattle. He also premiered the Turnage opera "Anna Nicole" at the Royal Opera House in London. Turnage has composed a solo concerto for Peter, titled "Erskine," which received its world premiere in Bonn, Germany in 2013, with the US premiere in September 2014 at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Erskine has been voted 'Best Jazz Drummer of the Year' ten times by the readers of Modern Drummer magazine.

Erskine graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and studied at Indiana University under George Gaber. In 1972, he commenced his professional career playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Four years later, Erskine joined Maynard Ferguson before working with Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report and moving to Los Angeles. Peter recorded five albums with the band. He won his first GRAMMY Award with their album "8.30." During this time in LA, he also worked with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Farrell and George Cables. Peter then moved to New York City where he worked for five years with such musicians as Michael Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Eddie Gomez and Eliane Elias in Steps Ahead, John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Marc Johnson in the legendary group Bass Desires and the John Abercrombie Trio plus Bob Mintzer's Big Band.

Erskine has lived in Los Angeles since 1987 but has been travelling around the world all of that time. He won his second GRAMMY Award as the drummer of the WDR big band in Cologne, Germany along with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Vince Mendoza and others for the "Some Skunk Funk" album. Meanwhile, Erskine keeps busy in LA with such artists as Alan Pasqua, Bob Sheppard and Bob Mintzer as well as playing in studios. Films where his drumming can be heard include "Memoirs of a Geisha," the new Pink Panther films and all three of the Austin Powers movies, plus the title music of the Steven Spielberg/John Williams collaboration, "The Adventures of Tintin."

Erskine is Professor of Practice and Director of Drumset Studies at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California.

Jimmy Heath

.Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger. Jimmy is the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers (Percy Heath/bass and Tootie Heath/drums) and is the father of Mtume. He has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last 50 years, from Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis. In 1948 at the age of 21, he performed in the First International Jazz Festival in Paris with McGhee, sharing the stage with Coleman Hawkins, Slam Stewart and Erroll Garner. One of Heath's earliest big bands (1947- 1948) in Philadelphia included John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Specs Wright, Cal Massey, Johnny Coles, Ray Bryant and Nelson Boyd. Charlie Parker and Max Roach sat in on one occasion.

During his career, Jimmy Heath has performed on more than 100 record albums including seven with The Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader. Jimmy has also written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and have been recorded by other artists including Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson and Dexter Gordon. Jimmy has also composed extended works -- seven suites and two string quartets -- and he premiered his first symphonic work, "Three Ears," in 1988 at Queens College (CUNY) with Maurice Peress conducting.

After having just concluded eleven years as Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Heath maintains an extensive performance schedule and continues to conduct workshops and clinics throughout the United States, Europe and Canada. He has also taught jazz studies at Jazzmobile, Housatonic College, City College of New York and The New School for Social Research. In October 1997, two of his former students, trumpeters Darren Barrett and Diego Urcola, placed first and second in the Thelonious Monk Competition.

Heath's enduring dedication to jazz as well as his musicianship prompted the following tributes: "All I can say is, if you know Jimmy Heath, you know Bop." -- Dizzy Gillespie

"Trane was always high on Jimmy's playing and so was I. Plus, he was a very hip dude to be with, funny and clean and very intelligent. Jimmy is one of the thoroughbreds." -- Miles Davis

"My pick from the world's talent would be Diz as leader, John Lewis or Hank Jones on piano, Ray Brown bass, Milt Jackson vibes, Jimmy Heath tenor, and Sonny Stitt alto." -- Kenny Clarke

"I had met Jimmy Heath, who -- besides being a wonderful saxophonist -- understood a lot about musical construction. I joined his group in Philadelphia in 1948. We were very much alike in our feeling, phrasing and a whole lot of other ways. Our musical appetites were the same. We used to practice together, and he would write out some of the things we were interested in. We would take things from records and digest them. In this way, we learned about the techniques being used by writers and arrangers." -- John Coltrane, Downbeat, 1960

Airmen of NoteThe Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force, regularly performs and records with the leading artists in the jazz world. In 1990, the Note started its popular Jazz Heritage Series. These concerts featured internationally acclaimed jazz musicians joining forces with one of the best big bands in America--the Airmen of Note.

A radio broadcast was added in 2007, expanding the dimension and appeal of the series and allowing listeners across the United States to enjoy these programs that previously could only be appreciated by live audiences in Washington, D.C. Now the U.S. Air Force Band Airmen of Note is pleased to offer the Jazz Heritage Series Broadcasts Archives, giving jazz fans worldwide a chance to listen online to past Jazz Heritage Series performances. These archival concerts feature Slide Hampton, Phil Woods, Junior Mance, Paquito D'Rivera, Karrin Allyson, Butch Miles, Kurt Elling, Allen Vizzutti, Rufus Reid, New York Voices, Joey DeFrancesco, Gary Smulyan, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Al Jarreau, Carmen Bradford, Kirk Whalum, Doc Severinsen, and many more!