U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note, Washington D.C.

I woke up at 7am after a wonderfully exhilarating and sparkling night with The Airmen of Note. They are a big band jazz group from the U.S. Air Force. Right now I’m on a really early morning flight to Chicago and the fact is that I’m refreshed, uplifted, touched, and stimulated… After three days of pretty intense rehearsing and performing, and here I go to a fourth day. Guess what—I’m not tired, but stoked. (All before 11am!) I was touched by an angel.

I won’t start to do the long role call of the players in the band and people to thank because they have special names like 11th Wing Commander Colonel Kenneth Rizer and Technical Sargeant Joe Jackson, Musical Director of the Airmen of Note. And President Knapp of The George Washington University. Lots of titles.

Maybe it was all about these people who serve and people being of service that touched me. I think it must be right after the First Commandment of “Thou shall not have any other gods before me” that there is a Commandment about helping each other. Commandment 1a. Sometimes the years can make people a little cynical and ‘just old hat’ and ‘been there before’ and ‘blah blah blah’ in thinking. But when you stare the tear filled eyes of sincerity in the face, you’ll know it, and something will be different.

It’s an 18-piece jazz band with soloists as good as it gets anywhere plus four background singers and a down-front featured vocalist who sent me home talkin’ to myself. She sang jazz and scat licks with Ella, and the next moment was standing right there alongside Aretha Franklin doing gospel licks. (Hi, Paige!)… AND she LOADS OUT after the gig.

Washington, DC turned up at Lisner Hall on the campus of George Washington University and their shouting and applauding welcome from the very first note really set the tone.

After our second rehearsal, I sat down with Joe Jackson (Director of ‘Air’) for an interview with Dick Golden (journalist, radio host, musical aficionado, and historian). It became one of the most beautiful ‘human-being conversations’ I’ve ever had. I hope someone is doing a story about Dick Golden. He really gets it. In all its length and breadth, and implications, and derivations. It was special. Thank you Dick and Joe.

The big band did special arrangements of Sticky Wicket, So Good, Jacaranda Bougainvillea, Spain, Teach Me Tonight, Boogie Down, and Mornin’. It was a new listen for anyone who came. And the performance and interview will be distributed to over 800 media outlets for broadcast in Spring 2011. Get ready! Colonel Rizer presented me with a trophy and a framed photo, and a medal, commemorating the whole occasion.

Thanks to everyone whose hard work made this event work so well.

Love, Al — Goin’ to Chicago!

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