The U.S. Army Blues, part of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Army. After informal beginnings in 1970, this 18-piece ensemble became an official element of the Army Band in 1972. Comprised of exceptional jazz musicians from across the nation, the Army Blues strive to fulfill their mission through public concerts, educational outreach, and the preservation of the tradition of America’s unique art form: jazz.
The Army Blues have performed at prestigious venues such as the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the famous Birdland jazz club in New York City, and the legendary jazz club Blues Alley club in Washington, DC. The band has shared the stage with jazz greats such as Dave Brubeck, Doc Severinsen, Stanley Turrentine, Slide Hampton, Dr. Billy Taylor, Kevin Mahogany, and Terrell Stafford. The Army Blues give frequent performances at national conferences such as the Jazz Education Network annual conference, the International Trumpet Guild conference, the International Trombone Conference, and the Music Educators National Conference. The musicians of the Army Blues perform regularly at the White House, the Vice President’s Residence, the State Department, and for high-level military protocol and ceremonial events in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
The group plays a vital role in Army recruiting as part of the Twilight Tattoo performances seen by thousands of tourists each summer in Washington, DC, and surrounding areas. Members of the Army Blues have played for Habitat for Humanity volunteers in New Orleans during the cleanup efforts following Hurricane Katrina. In conjunction with the USO and the office of the Sergeant Major of the Army, individual members of the band have volunteered to travel to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan during the holiday season to perform concerts for the troops stationed there.
Serving as musical ambassadors, the Army Blues have conducted numerous clinics at schools and colleges throughout the United States. Members of the Army Blues engage in community educational outreach, working with young musicians in local schools. In collaboration with the Library of Congress, the Army Blues play seldom-performed yet historically significant music from the Library’s jazz archives.
To celebrate their thirty-fifth anniversary, the Army Blues recorded a double CD album entitled Blues at Thirty-Five in 2007. This album won two Washington Area Music Awards (“Wammies”) in the categories of Best Big Band Group and Best Big Band Recording. Since that time, the ensemble has recorded Live at Blues Alley an educational initiative release called Blues Plus You and most recently, a collaborative effort with the Library of Congress titled Jazz from the Stacks.