The United States Air Force Band   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Home > Event > JHS

Jazz Heritage Series Events Page

The Airmen of Note's Jazz Heritage Series, presented by The United States Air Force Band, provides a wonderful opportunity for the public to experience the Air Force's high level of professionalism through concerts featuring masters of the only American-born art form--jazz.

2017 Jazz Heritage Series Guest Artists:
Thursday, Feb. 9  - Nnenna Freelon, critically-acclaimed vocalist 

Thursday, Mar. 23 - Peter Erskine, GRAMMY award-winning drummer
 - Tickets For Peter Erskine will be available ~ Feb 23, 2017 at 8 a.m.

Thursday, Apr. 20  - Marshall Gilkes
- Tickets will be available ~Mar 20, 2017 at 8 a.m.

All concerts begin at 8 p.m.
Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center
4915 E Campus Dr, Alexandria, VA 22311

Concerts are FREE and open to the public ~ tickets required. Any unclaimed seats will be released to non-ticketed patrons 15 minutes prior to each performance.

Tickets are available here for these FREE concerts:
Download the JHS Flyer here.

Nnenna Freelon

Steve TurreSix-time GRAMMY Award nominee Nnenna Freelon has earned a well- deserved reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer. Nnenna is no stranger to the music of the master singer -- she toured with Ray Charles as well as many other great jazz artists including Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau, George Benson and others.

She is particularly excited about her current venture as the writer, composer and producer of the original theatrical presentation of "The Clothesline Muse," a devised theatrical work of dance, music, spoken word, vibrant art and projections. "The Clothesline Muse" premiered in Philadelphia in 2013 with a national tour in 2015. Freelon made her feature film debut in "What Women Want" starring Mel Gibson.

Nnenna's talent is not limited to performing. Her TV appearance on "In Performance At the White House," celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, led to the versatile songstress/composer having a featured song on the hit TV show "Mad Men." That was followed by a new collaboration on tour with legendary guitarist Earl Klugh. In 2012, she had her first collaboration with pianist Ramsey Lewis.

Honors and awards are nothing new for Freelon. She was named a 2010
"Woman of Substance" by Bennett College for Woman and delivered the Keynote Address for the 2010 Arts Midwest Conference. Freelon is a winner of both the Billie Holiday Award from the prestigious Academie du Jazz and the Eubie Blake Award from the Cultural Crossroads Center in New York City. She was nominated twice as "Lady of Soul" by the Soul Train Awards.

Freelon has dedicated herself to educating young people, both musicians and non-musicians, and students of all ages. She toured the United States for four years as the National Spokesperson for Partners in Education. With her anthem, "One Child at a Time" found on her "Soulcall" recording, Freelon took on the task of fundraising and bringing greater attention to the needs of children in education through mentoring and the arts. In November 2011, the White House asked Freelon to headline the Asia Pacific Economic Summit for 300 presidents, premiers and heads of state from around the world. This was on the heels of receiving the YWCA of North Carolina's inaugural "Legend Award" for her outstanding artistry and her dedication to education.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Freelon received her undergraduate degree from Simmons College in Boston. Her parents and singing in the church gave the singer her first exposure to the arts; especially to the art of jazz. Ultimately she pursued a career in jazz. Her recording career has brought consistent respect and sales for the artist both for her solo albums and those on which she collaborates. Freelon has created a diverse and outstanding legacy from her creativity to her performances that have garnered an ever-growing fan base from audiences to leaders worldwide.

Peter Erskine

Cyrus ChestnutPeter Erskine has played the drums since the age of four and is known for his versatility and love of working in different musical contexts. He appears on over 600 albums and film scores and has won two GRAMMY Awards plus an Honorary Doctorate from the Berklee School of Music (1992).

Fifty albums have been released under his own name or as co-leader. He has played with the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson Big Bands, Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Kenny Wheeler, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Brecker Brothers, The Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, John Scofield, et al, and has appeared as a soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Frankfurt Radio, Scottish Chamber, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony, Oslo and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. Erskine premiered
the double percussion concerto "Fractured Lines," composed by Mark- Anthony Turnage, at the BBC Proms with Andrew Davis conducting, and
has collaborated frequently with Sir Simon Rattle. He also premiered the Turnage opera "Anna Nicole" at the Royal Opera House in London. Turnage has composed a solo concerto for Peter, titled "Erskine," which received its world premiere in Bonn, Germany in 2013, with the US premiere in September 2014 at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Erskine has been voted 'Best Jazz Drummer of the Year' ten times by the readers of Modern Drummer magazine.

Erskine graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and studied at Indiana University under George Gaber. In 1972, he commenced his professional career playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Four years later, Erskine joined Maynard Ferguson before working with Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report and moving to Los Angeles. Peter recorded five albums with the band. He won his first GRAMMY Award with their album "8.30." During this time in LA, he also worked with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Farrell and George Cables. Peter then moved to New York City where he worked for five years with such musicians as Michael Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Eddie Gomez and Eliane Elias in Steps Ahead, John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Marc Johnson in the legendary group Bass Desires and the John Abercrombie Trio plus Bob Mintzer's Big Band.

Erskine has lived in Los Angeles since 1987 but has been travelling around the world all of that time. He won his second GRAMMY Award as the drummer of the WDR big band in Cologne, Germany along with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Vince Mendoza and others for the "Some Skunk Funk" album. Meanwhile, Erskine keeps busy in LA with such artists as Alan Pasqua, Bob Sheppard and Bob Mintzer as well as playing in studios. Films where his drumming can be heard include "Memoirs of a Geisha," the new Pink Panther films and all three of the Austin Powers movies, plus the title music of the Steven Spielberg/John Williams collaboration, "The Adventures of Tintin."

Erskine is Professor of Practice and Director of Drumset Studies at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California.

Marshall Gilkes

Marshal GilkesSimply considering the range of music that Marshall Gilkes has played over the course of his career, it would be easy to assume that the trombonist/composer is a musical chameleon, able to alter his sound to fit into whatever situation he finds himself. Gilkes combines the spontaneous invention of jazz with the elegant architecture of classical composition; straightahead swing with adventurous modernism; virtuosic technique with passionate emotion. It's a rare combination that has made Gilkes an in-demand performer, composer, sideman, and clinician since his arrival in New York City in the late 1990s.

He's been voted a Rising Star on multiple occasions in DownBeat Magazine's esteemed Critics Poll. Bill Milkowski of JazzTimes has called Gilkes "compelling, harmonically intriguing and ferociously swinging," while bandleader Maria Schneider refers to him as "one of those musicians who continually just drops my jaw and leaves me shaking my head in disbelief."

While his musical career has taken him to stages around the world, including four years in Cologne (Köln), Germany, as a member of the WDR Big Band, Gilkes became familiar with travel long before a trombone ever touched his lips. Gilkes' father was a trombonist and euphonium player and later conductor in the Air Force, which led the family from Washington D.C. - Gilkes was born on Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland - to New Hampshire, New Jersey, Alabama, Illinois, and Colorado.
It was his father's influence that led Gilkes to pick up the trombone - apparently much earlier than he should have. Members of his father's Air Force band recall their conductor, who by that time had decisively traded his trombone for the baton, suddenly keeping his instrument in his office. It seems his young son insisted on trying it out for himself.

Today he continues to work regularly with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Edmar Castañeda Trio while teaching and offering master classes at institutions including The Banff Center, Berklee College of Music, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the Brubeck Institute.

Airmen of NoteThe Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force, regularly performs and records with the leading artists in the jazz world. In 1990, the Note started its popular Jazz Heritage Series. These concerts featured internationally acclaimed jazz musicians joining forces with one of the best big bands in America--the Airmen of Note.

A radio broadcast was added in 2007, expanding the dimension and appeal of the series and allowing listeners across the United States to enjoy these programs that previously could only be appreciated by live audiences in Washington, D.C. Now the U.S. Air Force Band Airmen of Note is pleased to offer the Jazz Heritage Series Broadcasts Archives, giving jazz fans worldwide a chance to listen online to past Jazz Heritage Series performances. These archival concerts feature Slide Hampton, Phil Woods, Junior Mance, Paquito D'Rivera, Karrin Allyson, Butch Miles, Kurt Elling, Allen Vizzutti, Rufus Reid, New York Voices, Joey DeFrancesco, Gary Smulyan, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Al Jarreau, Carmen Bradford, Kirk Whalum, Doc Severinsen, and many more!


 Inside The USAF Band

ima cornerSearch

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act