JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --
Shortly before America’s 244th Birthday on the Fourth of July, The United States Air Force Band’s premier jazz ensemble, Airmen of Note, joined forces with members of The United States Army Band, The United States Navy Band, The “President’s Own” United States Marine Band, and The United States Coast Guard Band to perform on a unique jazz arrangement and video production of “The Armed Forces Medley.”
During this unusual time of social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea for the video seemed like the best way to deliver appreciation and admiration for veterans across the globe to the members of The Airmen of Note.
Trumpeter Master Sgt. Luke Brandon explains, “Our aim is to inspire patriotism, and honor the joint force members and veterans that contribute to our independence on a daily basis. We wanted to do this through a wide-reaching social media presence. Since we could not celebrate Independence Day in the way we normally do, in person with an electrified live audience, we decided to use social media to bring that excitement and celebration to people around the world.”
The video showcases the interdependent and kinetic relationship that all of the sister services possess and maintain with each other. As Sgt. Brandon explains, “The independence and freedom we enjoy every day is in no small part due to the interoperability of our armed forces. We aimed to mirror that synchronization with a joint service video project.”
Master Sgt. David McDonald, percussionist for the Airmen of Note, adds, “This project originated as a way to showcase the excellence of our premier bands from each of the military branches, and to provide a strong patriotic message for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. The Superintendent of The Airmen of Note, Senior Master Sgt. Brian MacDonald, coordinated with group leaders from across our sister services, and encouraged them all to sign on and participate in this special collaboration.”
With so many moving parts, the actual production of the video could seem complicated and daunting to an objective outsider. However, this was not the first time that The Airmen of Note participated in a joint service project. The process was streamlined and highly successful.
Sgt. McDonald states, “Once the arrangement’s roadmap and tempo were determined, our pianist, Technical Sgt. Chris Ziemba and I recorded our specific parts to be used as a bed track for everyone else to play along and record their remaining individual parts. Our production team compiled all the tracks to mix and edit together accordingly.”
Sgt. Brandon agrees, as he adds, “In the past, we have had substitute performers from our sister services on a number of chairs in the Band. Each individual assimilated seamlessly into our ensemble, technically and stylistically. We knew this project would be easy to execute due to the high level of mastery and competency in military musicians across all the services.”
For the members of the Airmen of Note, the joint service collaboration proved to be a meaningful experience with long-lasting effects. Sgt. McDonald states, “All of my experiences collaborating with our counterparts in other military bands, particularly the Army Blues, Army Jazz Ambassadors, and Navy Commodores, have been very positive and inspiring. They are all consummate professional soldiers and sailors that operate with the same integrity and commitment to excellence as the members of The United States Air Force Band.”
“The Armed Forces Medley” video production was also meaningful and inspiring for audience members, estimated at one million views across various social media platforms and web pages across the respective military branches.
One of these inspired audience members, Debbie Kessler Linck wrote, “I am very proud of America’s Armed Forces, their bands and Drum and Bugle Corps. My husband was very happy to have played with several members of these groups.”
Another impressed viewer, William L. Thompson III wrote, “This band did a fine job of paying tribute to all the service branches. Hearing the music brings out the sense of pride of service. I’m sure all the other service people feel the same way.”
To view “The Armed Forces Medley,” please visit The United States Air Force Band’s Facebook page!