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).

? 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.