Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Successful Tour!

With trumpet phenomenon Al Vizutti as our special guest artist, the Commodores gave a spectacular performance in Seattle last night in a triumphant conclusion to our 2011 national tour. Highlights of the performance included Musicians 1st Class Nick Cooper and Tim Stanley trading hot licks with Al Vizutti on Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia" and Chief Musician Bill Mulligan's fantastic solo on "Emancipation Blues." Bill's solo actually brought the crowd to its feet!

This has been a wonderful tour. After nearly 18 years with this band I can truly say that I do not think we have ever had a tour in which the band has sounded so good at every performance. More importantly, without exception our concerts were were attended by very large, very enthusiastic crowds (a good sign - America seems to love jazz, the Commodores and the Navy!). Credit must go to the superb sponsors we had in every city. They got the word out and ensured audiences would be there for us. Thank you sponsors!

Credit for this tour's success must also go to our exceptional management team beginning with our unit leader, Senior Chief Musician Phil Burlin. He has set a high bar for all of us not only musically but in our purely Navy duties as well. He's an expert at identifying, diagnosing and solving problems. Thanks, Phil. You don't get the credit you deserve.

Chief Musician Bill Mulligan is our leading chief petty officer. It's a very important position to hold in any Navy unit and he is very good at it. Bill can answer any question about our unit that concerns where, when, how and why. He makes sure we get there, do what we are supposed to do and are in the right uniform. He does this seemingly without error. He's also a great musician. Read the first paragraph. Has any other Commodore gotten a standing ovation on his own?

Our musical director is Chief Musician Luis Hernandez. He has raised the musical level of our band ten-fold since he assumed this duty two years ago. We played a different program every single concert in this tour and as I mentioned before, audiences loved it. The band was not really capable of this before Luis became music director. Luis has demanded more of us as musicians then anyone ever has. He does all of this without being arrogant or abusive. He is a musician of vast talent and the Navy is fortunate to have him.

Chief Musician Yolanda Pelzer. She is our ace in the hole. Audiences love her and she delivers every single time. She is a great singer and a great entertainer. Yolanda keeps all of us laughing with her endlessly inventive sense of humor.
Although not a member of our leadership team directly, another person in our group who deserves great praise is Senior Chief Musician Matt Neff. He is the national tour director for the entire command. This duty is probably the most demanding job in the Navy Band. He works long hours preparing for each group to take its yearly national tour. Matt must keep track of funding, itineraries, bookings, sponsors, transportation, lodging and ten tour managers (two or three in each group). In other words, EVERYTHING! I work with Matt in tour operations and I marvel at his ability to keep such a cheerful disposition while under such a demanding work load.

All blogs must end and so it goes with mine. Everyone in the Commodores deserves a high praise for this tour but I'll mention only two more. Special thanks must also go to Chief Musician Pete Revell and Musician 1st Class Scott Sheperd who put together a great itenerary for us. Their careful preparation ensured success in the logistical portion of our tour. Thanks!

Chief Musician Steve Williams plays lead alto in the Commodores.

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