Air Force jazz concert coming to Tucumcari

By Ryan Lengerich

Tucumcari Jazz fans take notice.

The United States Air Force Band of the West will be holding a jazz concert at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Tucumcari High School Auditorium. The show is sponsored by the Quay County Sun and there is no admission charge. Free tickets can be picked up at the Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce prior to the event.

“Dimensions in Blue,” a 19 person unit performs about 300-400 concerts each year at various colleges, high schools and media sponsored events throughout New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Louisiana.

“There are very few full time big bands in the country,” said band Director of Operations TSgt. Don Marchand. “So this is a great opportunity.”

The group performs a variety of music including classics such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman. The group also features contemporary sounds from Rob McConnell, Bob Mintzer and Frank Mantooth.

Marchand said the group also plays patriotic music as well as Frank Sinatra tunes.

“We generally attract a wide variety of ages,” Marchand said. “We get very good crowds and they really enjoy the 1940’s big band.”

Most of the musicians have college degrees from various music schools throughout the nation. The Air Force recruits the musicians solely to perform, but they must also finish boot camp and take on other duties associated with the Air Force.

“We are pretty much full time professional musicians, that is what the Air Force hires us to do,” said A1C Lacey Stokes.
The Band of the West has about 60 members including a 45 person concert band. That band is broken down into six units which play a variety of music styles.

“Our primary goal is to promote troop moral and promote air force activities,” Stokes said. “On the other hand it is important to go out to the community and show people what we do.”

Dimensions in Blue have been featured performers at the Texas Jazz Festival, the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention, the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival, the Galveston Jazz Festival and San Antonio’s “Fiesta in Blue” activities.