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).

Of legacies and such things…

The little guy at the piano in the featured image of this post is our youngest grandson.

Like all of our children and grandchildren, he’s very “musical.”

But, there’s something special about him that makes me think he’s our next musician among our progeny and could likely help carry music into future generations.

He sings and hums to himself while doing most any task.

He moves to music when it’s being played on television or in real-time by someone on a musical instrument.

*Playing music unsolicited…

Whereas most people don’t hear the music that is going on around them like the underscore of movies, I’ve noticed that this little guy genuinely notices all musical notes – even those found in everyday things like the sound of a glass “clinking.”

He also actually matches pitch pretty well too!

It seems music is a natural consideration for him. I think he’s “our next musician.”

Both, T and I remember being like that too…

*This is our daughter’s IG that inspired this BurnettFamilyUS.org blog !

Letting them choose…

When our children were born we decided that they both would be required to learn a musical instrument. First the piano and then a band instrument which they would be required to play throughout middle and high school.

Our reasoning was sound because learning a musical instrument develops the brain in ways other subjects and activities do not. That was our primary agenda.

And people who know music in an applied context always seem to be more well-rounded than those who do not. I think it’s because they learned how to create art.

*T in the recording studio playing flute for the “Standards Vol. 1” project.

Both, our son and daughter were brilliant young musicians.

They were always among the best musicians of their generation and neither really worked too hard at it beyond playing at school or occasionally playing with us at home.

We really hoped they’d ultimately choose music like we did, and take it further.

Neither did. It wasn’t their “thing.” Although I believe either our son or daughter could have been successful as working professional performing artists and musicians.

*Recording “Standards Vol. 1” …

Another true story…

Our daughter hadn’t played her flute for at least 10 years when we were visiting her at her family’s home one year and brought our flutes with us.

We pulled out some flute trio music and asked her to play.

She literally had to dig around the long-term storage spaces of her house for about thirty minutes before she finally found her flute.

When she found it we spent the next couple of hours playing trios and our daughter made less mistakes than I did. Brilliant!

I guess it really is “like riding a bike” …
Music Is Life Is Music

I have told both of our children half-jokingly that we could have “made” them into musicians if we had wanted to do so and they would not have been aware we did it.

It’s sort of like the sports parents who get their kid a personal trainer in preschool.

We could have literally turned them into phenomenal musicians without their consent.

And we could have steered them into a career in the music industry as well.

We didn’t want to do that because we think being an artist is largely a choice.

Instead we took the path of teaching them applied music to a high level and then letting them choose whether to pursue it further from an informed perspective.

Neither chose music in that context.

But, that little guy in the first picture just might.

Music Is
Life
Is Music

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.com

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

? Music Producers and Recording Artists

 

Many musicians have an instinctive understanding of how musical sound interacts with our bodies. They know — they feel — that sound impacts our bodies in a way no other art does. Opera singer Irene Gubrud says, “As a very young child, I experienced who I was through sound. I felt whole.”

Excerpt: ‘The Power Of Music’ by Elena Mannes

We were professional musicians before we met each other in the middle 1970s while working overseas for the U.S. Army’s music program.

Our children and grandchildren likely associate music being created and instruments being played in our home as just a part of life while growing up and over the subsequent years.

We are now ARC recording artists with several releases on the market and document our music on recordings as part of the inherent legacy representing some of our respective works created during the course of the journey of our lives.

The Standards Project

Our latest recording project will be produced in October 2018 and released commercially on the ARC label in February 2019.

Production Meeting at BRC Audio Productions

A recent post thoroughly describes “The Standards Project.”

But, our very first recording session was produced during our off-duty hours while we were members of the Army Band at Ansbach, Germany.

The First Recording Session

We have always believed in creating the type of life we want to live and that includes where our musical careers are concerned as well.

We don’t wait for things to happen to us. We work to make the things we want to happen.  This first recording session illustrates this fact in a very cool way. It was thoroughly planned as well.

By 1979 I was just about finished with the composition and arranging course I was enrolled in and taking from the Berklee College of Music in Boston by mailed correspondence. It took 3 years to compete.

I was writing lots of “tunes” by then and had officially joined the arranging staff of the Army band. Several of my charts were being played in concerts, shows or tours.

We hadn’t a clue of what we were doing as record producers beyond basic knowledge in terms of understanding the music and how to operate the equipment we were using to record.

We didn’t even consider post-production concerns or commercial distribution of the music we recorded.

We were simply learning and creating something musically positive for all of us to do rather than just sit around between the Army band gigs.

Our very first recording session date was December 18, 1979

We produced the recording with fellow Army musicians we worked with at that time.

? The images posted here are of my decades old hand-written notes, LOL!

We recorded one of my originals and my arrangement of Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House.” Following are the credits:

  • Bob Henry, engineer;
  • Larry Bennett and James McNeal, trumpet;
  • Christopher Burnett, alto saxophone;
  • R. Stephen Gilbert, tenor and soprano saxophones;
  • Gene Smith, trombone;
  • Leon Johnson, Fender Rhodes;
  • Bruce Shockley, bass;
  • and Dennis Butler, drums.
  • Terri Anderson Burnett and Christopher Burnett, producers.

For some reason, it all worked out.

Forty Years Later

We are still practicing, performing, teaching, writing and recording music.