Marines Bring Jazz To High School


On Friday, March 7, staff and students at Floral Park Memorial High School were treated to an incredible performance by the Marine Corps Jazz Ensemble, a stop on the group’s Spring 2014 tour of the Northeast to perform the American art form of jazz. With the help of Floral Park Memorial High School’s Music Department Chair Lisa Kolb, Gunnery Sergeant William Lehrschall and Sergeant Victor Altamirano of the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Hempstead were able to secure Floral Park as a stop on the concert tour.

The Marine Corps Jazz Ensemble recently completed its regional tour, performing last week at Queens College with world-renowned trumpeter Michael Mossman, and at Lincoln Center in New York City with special guest, trumpet virtuoso Jon Faddis, following a similar high school performance for the students at Syosset High School on March 3.

The group performed some jazz standards, original compositions and a chart commissioned for this band, written by Anita Brown, an award-winning composer, arranger and teaching artist.This particular jazz group was comprised of Marines stationed across the country, including:

On drums, Chief Warrant Officer Steve Giove, director, Parris Island Marine Band, is originally from Fort Lauderdale, where he enlisted in the Marine Corps as a percussionist in 1989. His true passion has always been percussion and never passes on an opportunity to play jazz.

On trumpet, Gunnery Sergeant Tim Otis, musician procurement chief (Quantico) from Roseburg, OR, enlisted in the Marines in 1994 as a trumpet player. As an incredibly versatile musician, he was selected to serve as the trumpet and conducting instructor at the Armed Forces School of Music, assistant director, musician placement director and has recently taken over his current post in which he is in charge of musician procurement for the nation.  

On guitar, Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Christian Arellano, 12th Marine Corps District Musician Placement Director (San Diego) hails from Los Angeles, where he began playing guitar at a very early age. He joined the Marines in 1999 and immediately became a highly sought after musician throughout the Marine Corps. Also a talented conductor, GySgt Arellano previously served as the assistant director in Marine Band San Diego prior to his current post.

On bass, GySgt Jonathan Bley, 1st Marine Corps District Musician Placement Director (Garden City) enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000 from his hometown of Buffalo, NY. Prior to his current post, he served as the assistant director in the 2nd Marine Diviion Band as well as Marine Band San Diego. GySgt Bley has traveled the world sharing the universal language of music, performing in Japan, Thailand, Mongolia, Australia, South Korea, Guam and many more.

On trombone, Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Ken Ebo, trombone instructor, Armed Forces School of Music (Norfolk, VA) from Aiken, SC, was a music educator prior to enlisting in the Marines in 1998. SSgt Ebo is a highly talented musician and clinician who performs throughout the nation. The Ken Ebo Jazz Orchestra out of Baltimore, widely considered the top big band in the area, is known for their contributions to the Marine’s Toys for Tots program.

On alto saxophone, Sergeant Charlie Arbelaez, of Marine Band San Diego, and from Fort Lauderdale, burst on the scene in 2009 and has been called to participate in almost every notable Marine Band jazz performance since. He is active in the San Diego music scene and has been featured on several recordings as of late, including bass virtuoso Brian Bromberg’s soon to be released album.

On piano, Sergeant Devin Penner, Quantico Marine Band (Quantico) is from Red Bluff, CA where he joined the Marines in 2010. He has been the pianist for the Marine Corps All Star Jazz Band since he joined and regularly been featured as a soloist in several highly publicized perfomances throughout the country.

The Marine Corps Music Program consists of 10 Marine Corps bands located throughout the world. Each of these musical units is comprised of 50 Marine Corps musicians led by one Marine officer who is the director.

The Marine Corps bands travel the world playing for heads of state, foreign dignitaries, military leadership and most importantly, the American people.

Marine Band regularly fields a variety of ensembles to include chamber ensembles, jazz ensembles and contemporary groups.

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