Old Ironsides Band

Playing Music Together in Germany
T ist hinter die kleines Mädchen und ich bin am der recht.
Unser Freund Willie Driffin ist der Tenorsaxophonist.

A former colleague of ours from our days in Germany in the late 1970s sent these recordings of our Army band back then performing in several contexts.

This colleague, Bruce Shockley is a fantastic musician and still performs professionally.

The included photographs in this post that are not taken by me or T are primarily from the personal archives of two other former colleagues, Bob Levitsky and Dan Flake.

GERMANY TOUR YEARS: 1976-1980

What is interesting for us today is to now look back at those days and realize 1977 was only 32 years after the end of World War II, the Cold War was still a thing, and our job with the military was to go around playing music to spread goodwill.

Ansbach, Germany

To get a contextual idea of what contemporary life for us in Germany during those years was like visit the House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany website at https://www.hdg.de/ 

We thought our children and grandchildren might find it interesting to listen to us performing music when we first met (and before we were married in 1979).

We were also just 21-year-old performing artists and gaining experience.

Although we were playing 250 to 300+ concerts and ceremonies each year by then, we were still new professionals.

Working that much builds chops and perspective.

We are seated in the front “jump seats” of our tour bus.

The first two recordings are from a partnership concert and are representative of what the concert band sounded like. In addition to ceremonial music, it also demonstrates the type of music we most often played for German civilian audiences or important functions. T plays flute and I play alto saxophone on these recordings.

1977 Partnership Concert “Fanfare” 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band
1977 Partnership Concert “Medley” 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band
Rendering a questionable impression of the great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.
1978 “Hello Dolly” 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band featuring Charlie Heintz on soprano sax.

On the road again …

The 1st AD Jazz Band files that follow are live recordings from a concert we performed in a gymnasium for the Department of Defense (DoD) high school students of the Ansbach US military community

We played everywhere from historical concert halls to outdoor concerts for combat arms specialty troops on maneuver training out in the woods. And events that included most everything in between those two…

1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band performing an impromptu concert somewhere in Europe.
“Corazon” from the Woody Herman band’s library.
“Dvorak’s Theme” by Sammy Nestico.

The song titled “Corazon” is from the Woody Herman band’s library.

It also documents the first ever improvised jazz solo that I took with the jazz band in Germany.

The second song is an adaptation by the famous arranger, composer and former military musician Sammy Nestico titled “Dvorak’s Theme.” 

Marcus Hampton is the trumpet improviser. 

Two great friends and mentors: Marcus Hampton (trumpet) and Willie Driffin (tenor saxophone)

I don’t remember why the rhythm section is only guitar, bass and drums on these tracks though. 

We could have been between the band having replacement players assigned to us to fill for those who left to go home to the USA.

We performed so many gigs. Literally hundreds each year.

“Love is a better teacher than duty.”
– Albert Einstein

 At more than one point during our tour, 

we worked several months straight, 

then had a few days to pay bills 

and take uniforms to the dry cleaners

before we were off traveling again. 

We found out that we truly loved music.

Senior Enlisted Leadership: Sergeant First Class Charlie Heintz and First Sergeant Billy Patterson.
Top’s remarks during a gig somewhere…
*First photograph is a drone aerial 
photograph of Bleidorn Kaserne
taken in 2019 (courtesy of YouTube).

Focus on your craft…

and refuse to be denied…

Jay McShann Tribute Big Band

Another True Story …

The main photograph of this post is of the Jay McShann tribute big band saxophone section which included (left to right):

Gerald Dunn, Christopher Burnett (yes, with the large Afro hairstyle), Dennis Winslett, Bobby Watson, Ahmed Alaadeen and Kerry Strayer (not shown).

The legendary altoist Bobby Watson soloing…

I had actually met the great Jay McShann and interacted with him several times.

This tribute event was held in early 2007 at the historic Gem Theater in the jazz district of Kansas City.

Alaadeen, who first introduced me to Jay, invited me to play in this tribute – but, I don’t think he was formerly authorized to do so because the cats initially acted somewhat surprised to see me there with my horn.

Even though nobody said anything to me, I figured it out when there were three alto players during the first set. Awkward. Normally I would have left under such circumstances and not even played but I listened to my inner voice and stayed.

And since I had actually met Jay and interacted with him several times enough to have gotten to know him somewhat, I wanted to simply add my musical voice to this tribute.

It turned out to be a very nice event honoring a true master of jazz and blues.

Jay McShann was also the first professional bandleader to hire Charlie Parker.

Playing the lead alto book…

We played two sets. Bobby had to leave after the first and let me play lead the next set.

All of the players were pretty nice to me since I could play the parts and was there unawares and sincerely by invitation of a KC jazz master.

This was my introduction to the realities of life in the music outside of military bands.

Sometimes you just have to make a place for yourself in life and the music industry because others won’t do it for you. What a great opportunity and honor this was.

Those are the types of substantive lessons I learned from the late Ahmed Alaadeen along with the technical aspects of music we studied. He was my last great teacher.

My 2007 JAM cover was in great company…

I’m still going strong and have artistically established myself teaching music in addition to performing and composing.

I began my career by serving 22-years with the professional military bands system.

And 2018 marked another career milestone of being professionally active on the at-large music industry scene for 22-years after military service. That’s pretty cool.

2019 marks entry into new territory of sorts…

As my late brother who was truly a world class musician once told me:

“Focus on your craft and refuse to be denied.”

~ Richie Pratt

Visit: BurnettMusic.biz

Also visit KC Area Youth Jazz at YouthJazz.us

Christmas Time Is Here

Good tidings of comfort and joy !

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We started a tradition in our family several years ago called Thanksgiving-Christmas where we select a timeframe during the season that allows everyone to come together at the Burnett Grandparents’ home to celebrate both of these holidays at the same time with one another.

Thanksgiving-Christmas is a convenient practice when you have adult children with families and lives of their own.

One Family

You really only have one family.

You always gain new family members – related by blood and related by bond.

You always lose family members along the way through death and drama.

Family members come and go in and out of your life for whatever reasons.

We want all of our family (and friends) who weren’t able to be with us for Thanksgiving-Christmas to know that you are always in our hearts and we will always …

LOVE YOU!

~ Terri Anderson Burnett + Christopher Burnett

The story behind the song …

“WHENEVER WE CRY”

Listen

All of the music I write is motivated by life – a person, place or thing.

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

Being a child of the US Civil Rights Era (literally, I was born in 1955), I watched my parents work twice as hard to just be even, vote for the first time in their forties and never teach hate or negativity to us children.

I also saw the stresses of life as a black family after they left military service society contribute to their ultimate divorce.

The last conversation I had with my father before he left for good was one where I saw a tear in his eye.

Until then, I had never before seen him even come close to crying.

He saw that I noticed and told me that crying isn’t a weakness but a strength.

He said:

“When we cry it is our purest form of sincerity and it’s a form of communication that is beyond language.

And when we cry angels sing.”

I never forgot that wisdom.

Anytime I confront issues of social justice I remember how important it is to provide sanctuary for those in our charge like our spouse and children.

I’ve had to start over a few times over the years dealing with life matters compounded by the fact of who I am as a man.

We have a thing in our family that is a commitment to never leave anyone behind because we all are going to be wounded by society and life at some point.

I’m committed to living a positive life, with love and one of meritorious self-determination.

Sometimes you run into people who hurt you for that, but I always remember – “when we cry, angels sing” …

And we grow stronger too.

~ Cb


LYRIC

I’m not a poet by any means. But all of my music also has lyrics although I perform and record my music instrumentally.

“WHENEVER WE CRY”

May not be en vogue
To be so open and sincere
Being in love finds a way
To expose every weakness and fear
To reveal all of your sunshine and good cheer

So don’t be put off by the moisture in my

Eyes can only see
Some things and how they need to be
In life’s rude games sometimes played
Or those times when we forget to use our best selves

As your own child takes those first steps
Hold your breath

But whenever we cry

Angels sing

~ Christopher Burnett (BMI)