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The Jazz Ambassadors, members of the U.S. Army Field Band, will give a free performance at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Heckart Performing Arts Center. 

For nearly 70 years, members of the U.S. Army Field Band have been connecting the public with the American military. On Tuesday, the Jazz Ambassadors will fill Sedalia with the sounds of “the greatest generation.”

The concert is free and open to the public and will be performed at Smith-Cotton’s Heckart Performing Arts Center.

U.S. Army Field Band Public Affairs Specialist Elizabeth Peace said by phone in Maryland on Thursday that the band was first formed in 1946 right after World War II.

“It was (formed) by a Chief Warrant Officer named Chester Whiting, near the end of World War II,” she noted. “His goal in making that happen was to bring support to troops who were returning from fighting overseas.”

The name of the band changed several times, but received its current name in 1950. The band’s mission has remained the same: talented Army musicians traveling to places where there is no Army base “to bolster support” for those who are sacrificing to keep America free.

“The intent of the Army Field Band is primarily to connect America to its Army,” Peace added. “That is our main mission. We have four components, we have the Jazz Ambassadors … then we have the Concert Band, the Soldiers’ Chorus and the Six-String Soldiers.”

Each component travels approximately 100 days a year throughout the country giving performances. Sometimes they travel internationally.

“That’s not primarily what we do, but we did return from Norway back in April,” Peace said. “I felt like that was extremely successful. When we go overseas, part of what we do is to strengthen our ties with our allies, which is what we did in Norway.

“Then sometimes we are able to play for our soldiers who are serving overseas,” she added. “There are hundreds of U.S. military installations overseas. So, it’s important that we’re still connecting with those who are serving, even though they are not serving in America.”

Tuesday’s concert will feature the sound of big band music.

“It’s really fun to go to a Jazz Ambassadors concert and hear a lot of jazz and swing music,” Peace said. “But, I can tell you that I’ve taken my kids to these concerts and they enjoy it, even though it’s not the music they grew up with.”

The Jazz Ambassadors are comprised of 20 members and Peace noted they will meet and greet the public after the performance.

“As soon as the concert is over, they stick around and they mingle with the audience,” she added. “One of the really cool parts about what they do, they like to speak not just with residents, but there are a lot of veterans who go to these concerts. So, it’s really, really a neat experience to meet the veterans and hear their story.”

Peace added that the concert is a good opportunity for those who have never met a soldier to do so.

“I think that sometimes the idea of what a soldier is, might not be completely accurate,” she noted. “Today’s soldiers are well-educated. The Army provides them with a lot of educational opportunities and they are professionals in everything they do.

“I think right now, there is so much turmoil and divisiveness and political strife in our country that once people get to the actual concert they will release we actually share a lot of common ground,” she added. “Sometimes it takes going to a concert like this to realize that and to realize who soldiers really are as opposed to a portrayal seen in Hollywood.”

Peace said she encourages everyone to attend the concert and to speak to the soldiers afterward.

“I think they’ll be very surprised by who they meet,” she said.

The Jazz Ambassadors will perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Smith-Cotton Heckart Performing Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required. Tickets may be picked up at the Sedalia Democrat, 700 S. Massachusetts Ave., or at Townsquare Media, 2209 S. Limit Ave.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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