PARKERSBURG - The internationally acclaimed U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors of Washington, D.C., will continue its long history of presenting free public performances when it appears at 7 p.m. April 4 at Parkersburg South High School in a performance sponsored by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
To obtain free tickets by mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to: ATTN: Jazz Ambassadors tickets, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, 519 Juliana St., Parkersburg, WV 26101.
Tickets also can be obtained at the front desk at the newspaper. There is a limit of four tickets per request.
The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors of Washington, D.C., will present a free public performance April 4 at 7 p.m. at Parkersburg South High School. The performance is sponsored by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
As the premier touring big band for the United States Army, the Jazz Ambassadors travel thousands of miles each year throughout the nation and abroad, keeping the will of the American people behind the members of the armed forces and supporting diplomatic efforts around the world.
Since being formed in 1969, the Jazz Ambassadors have appeared in all 50 states and throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The Jazz Ambassadors present a diverse program of big band swing, Latin music, contemporary jazz, popular tunes, standards, Dixieland and patriotic selections. Maestro Marvin Hamlisch, during a joint concert with the National Symphony Orchestra, exclaimed, "I can't think of better ambassadors for our country!"
Past performance highlights include the Montreux, North Sea and Newport Jazz Festivals, World War II 50th anniversary commemorations in the U.S. and Europe, and performances in India and Japan. After performing with the Cincinnati Pops at Carnegie Hall, the Cincinnati Enquirer declared that "the musicianship was superbThe Jazz Ambassadors are polished and seamless virtuosos."
Members of the Jazz Ambassadors are selected by highly competitive audition and represent some of the finest musical talent in America. More than three decades of touring have earned them the title, "The Musical Ambassadors of the Army."
The musical selection for the concert includes "Flight of the Foo Birds," "Lili's Song," "Yardbird Suite," "Witchcraft," "Cherry Juice," "I Thought About You," "To Sir With Love," "Nobody Else But Me," "Lullaby of the Leaves," "A Visit to New Orleans," "Armed Forces Salute" and "God Bless America."
The Jazz Ambassadors are under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Gordon K. Kippola, who enlisted in 1982 after earning a bachelor's degree in music education from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.
Following basic and advanced military training, Kippola was assigned to the 6th Army Band in San Francisco as a trombone player. He also has served with the 2nd Infantry Division Band at Camp Casey, Korea; the 1st Army Band at Fort Meade, Md.; the 8th Army Band in Seoul, Korea; and the 399th Army Band at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He also completed a staff assignment at the Armed Forces School of Music.
Kippola was appointed a warrant officer in 1996, with his first assignment at the 10th Mountain Division Band, Fort Drum, N.Y. He then commanded the 1st Infantry Division Band in Germany and Iraq. Prior to his assignment as an associate bandmaster with the U.S. Army Field Band, he commanded the 77th Army Band at Fort Sill, Okla. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
Master Sgt. Marva J. Lewis, vocalist with the Jazz Ambassadors, is from Denison, Texas. She attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, on a choir scholarship, graduating in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. In 1989, Lewis joined the United States Army as a petroleum supply specialist. During the Persian Gulf War from 1990-1991, she served three campaigns in Saudi Arabia with the 15th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.
After returning from the Middle East, she was reassigned to Camp Casey, Korea. While singing karaoke at a unit function, she was heard by the Republic of Korea head of Army Entertainment and recruited to tour throughout Korea. She was subsequently selected for the 1993 and 1994 Army Soldier Show, performing at more than 50 military installations throughout the U.S., Panama, Puerto Rico and Germany. She was chosen by the sergeant major of the Army to perform with the All Army Band at the 1994 opening of the Army's Shades of Green Hotel at Disney World, Orlando, Fla.
Later in 1994, she returned to Fort Hood, Texas, as vocalist with the 1st Cavalry Division Band. In December 1995, she was selected to be featured vocalist with the Jazz Knights of the United States Military Academy Band and reassigned to West Point, N.Y. She joined the Jazz Ambassadors in September 1999.
Lewis' military awards include the Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Saudi Arabia Liberation Medal and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.