JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
Five-time Grammy Award winner and internationally recognized saxophonist, composer and author Jeff Coffin visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, alongside five-time Grammy Award winner, composer and percussionist Roy Wooten Oct. 26.
The duo came on base to visit the Rhythm in Blue jazz band during a training session to provide feedback and advice on performance and rehearsal techniques.
“These two have been mentors and people I’ve looked up to musically for over a decade and a half at least,” said Tech. Sgt. Jordan Kimble, Heritage of America Band marketing team lead and Rhythm in Blue bassist. “I was a big fan of theirs just as a music listener back when I was in college. I really dove into their music as a student of music and I listened and transcribed some of their playing and some of their songs that they did with the ‘Flecktones.’”
The Rhythm in Blue jazz band jumped on the opportunity to get face time with the musicians, as Coffin and Wooten are touring constantly throughout the year.
“To be asked to come in and work with a group like this is such an honor on every level,” Coffin said. “To think that I have something that would benefit a group like this is very humbling to me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s also encouraging to me that the military continues to have bands. The arts are important, not only to our education, but also to our global reach.”
Coffin and Wooten also shared their personal experiences and emphasized the impact music can make on the world when it is used as a tool to bridge cultural gaps.
“Music is powerful,” Coffin said. “We can listen to a song and immediately be transported to where we were when we first heard that song.”
Wooten discussed how he went on tour throughout different countries and was able to see how embassies from various countries would invite one another to events solely because of music.
“Without the music, they didn’t have a reason to come together,” Wooten said. “Music was the best conduit for that. It was like buffer for giving people a reason to come together in harmony.”
Airmen from Air Force bands also share that same goal of using music to unite political leaders and decision-makers.
“Every time we interact with these world-class famous musicians that have power in the music industry, it builds our authority in that world, too,” Kimble said. “That’s a big deal for the Air Force, because it shows that their professional Airmen are also professional musicians, and they’re on a caliber that these artists appreciate and respect.”
Wooten lived and played music with his four brothers in the Hampton and Newport News area before his father, who is also a Korean War veteran, retired from the Air Force.
“I’m what you call a military brat,” Wooten said. “We spent a lot of years here, so it feels like I’m home.”
Coffin also has a brother in law who served in the Air Force for 25 years before retiring as a chief master sergeant.
“I was really blown away all day with not only the music of the band, but also with the personalities of the musicians,” Coffin said. “It was great to hear one of my tunes played with such incredible professionalism and at such a high level. That was a nice surprise for me.”
The day began with a Rhythm in Blue jazz ensemble rehearsal in the morning and ended with a master class where Airmen, civilians, retirees and service member musicians from all walks of life were invited to attend.
“You’re getting the top players and getting them to come in and not only does it give us fresh expertise, but it also serves to reinvigorate the band,” said Master Sgt. Jason Foster, NCO in charge of Rhythm in Blue and Heritage of America Band section chief of resources. “I’m excited and happy for the band, because I know it’s going to give them a little bit of motivation.”
The Rhythm in Blue jazz band is one of seven ensembles from Air Combat Command’s Heritage of America Band. The band uses their music to tell the Air Force story throughout the Eastern United States, performing for diverse audiences from Maine to South Carolina.
To listen to their music or learn about upcoming appearances, click on the links below.