The Jazz Ambassadors, an ensemble of the United States Army’s Field Band, will bring the sounds of The Greatest Generation to the McMahon Memorial Auditorium on Friday.
Formed in 1969, the 19-member ensemble provides entertainment for all types of audiences. From big band swing to bebop, Latin to contemporary jazz, the ensemble has a diverse repertoire of music.
Currently on tour for their 50th anniversary, the Jazz Ambassadors are coming to Lawton through a sponsorship from the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, McMahon Auditorium and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re sponsoring the event so that we can bring more music to Lawton, Oklahoma,” Patty Neuwirth, executive director of the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, said. “We want our citizens in this area to have every opportunity, and I thought this looked like a good one.”
Neuwirth first came across the Jazz Ambassadors two years ago online and sent off an email to inquire about bringing the band to Lawton. She quickly forgot about the request. Then, a year later, she received a reply. The band would be in the area in the fall of 2019.
“I’m so happy we got them now since this is their 50th anniversary tour,” Neuwirth said. “When I found out they were doing this Greatest Generation theme, I just thought ‘oh that’s so cool’.”
The free concert will feature a whole production around the theme of World War II featuring music of the time as well as a slide show and footage of newsreels from the war.
The concert will open with “Take the A Train,” by Bill Strayhorn. Other memorable classic will include “The White Cliffs of Dover,” by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, as well as patriotic numbers like “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”
The Jazz Ambassadors have appeared in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India and throughout Europe. Recent notable performances from the band include concerts at the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont and the the Kennedy Center Honors.
“This theme, the Greatest Generation, it’s real emotional for a lot of us,” Neuwirth said. “My dad was in World War II, so I think about it a lot. I just want people to understand what a unique opportunity this event is. It’s an event we won’t get here in Lawton again.”
While tickets are free, space is limited. But Neuwirth doesn’t want that to stop potential concert-goers, and said to come out to the show even if you haven’t picked up a ticket by the day of as any non-taken seats will be given out 10 minutes before the show starts.
Tickets are available from Phillips Music in Lawton, McMahon Auditorium and The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.
For more information, call the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra at 531-5043.