Arts and Entertainment

Rock pays the bills, jazz rewards the soul

The Jazz Ambassadors promote musical good will and harmony wherever they go

They bring the message to Bainbridge Island in a “First Fridays” concert, Oct. 5 at Island Center Hall.

“I picked the name Jazz Ambassadors because I always have this idea that music is multicultural and multi-lingual,” band leader Dave Carson said. “If I go to Japan and say, ‘Let’s play B-flat blues,’ everyone understands what I mean.”

As professionally trained musicians supported by their music-making, the Ambassadors are positioned to carry the message with flair.

Carson assembled the band five years ago from performers who were, like himself, Navy musicians.

That means the band members were not just enlisted men who might play with a band on their own time, but were specialists who played music all day.

“Carson was right to gather a group of pros,” said the band’s pick-up drummer, islander John Lester. “This is one of the best ensembles I have ever played with – and I’m an old guy.

“Most musicians don’t play as much as these guys do, or with as wide a range. They might play Sousa in the morning and Chopin in the afternoon. Then jazz allows them to cut loose at night.”

Carson notes that only college-trained musicians pass the Navy’s auditions. Once accepted as a music specialist, they receive further instruction at the Armed Forces School of Music, an affiliate of the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.

Carson understands the preference for trained musicians.

“I don’t like to hire people who can’t read, because you have to rehearse twice as long,” he said. “The professional instruction makes a big, big difference.”

While Carson admits that it’s the rock and roll band he plays with that pays the bills, the jazz ensemble has his heart because he finds the music more challenging and cerebral.

He chose music over his father’s objections.

“Dad was a machinist, so you had the classic blue-collar worker with an artist son,” Carson said. “It wasn’t a good mix – he was pretty sure I’d be a bum. But he came around when I joined the Navy band and started making money.

“He even got to be a fan.”

* * * * *

The Jazz Ambassadors – comprised of saxophonist David Carson; guitarist Gene Rosati; vocalist and trumpeter Tommy Horner; bassist David Bogart; and percussionist John Lester – play original compositions and jazz standards at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5. Admission are $8/adults, $5/youth ages 6-18. Call 842-2306.

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