Jazz Ambassador comes home to toot his horn

By Pam Tcath
Cranston Herald

News story photo
Photo credit: TUSAFB
Bradford Danho, a graduate of Cranston East, is returning to his alma mater for a free concert. Danho plays the saxophone in the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors Band.
The Jazz Ambassadors of the U.S. Army Field Band in Washington, D.C. will be performing a free concert at Cranston High School East on Friday, Oct. 21.

“We are thrilled that one of our own, Bradford Danho, Cranston High School East Class of 1999 is a member of this prestigious ensemble,” said Mark Colozzi, program supervisor for music education for Cranston Public Schools as well as the choir director, co-band director and jazz ensemble director at East.

This is the military's premiere jazz ensemble that has played at events from the White House to many corners of the globe, touring 100 or more days a year.

The Jazz Ambassadors were founded in 1969 and are a component of the U.S. Army Field Band. The Field Band is composed of the Concert Band and Soldier's Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors and a rock/show band called the Volunteers. The groups tour separately through the U.S. and abroad as a positive image for today's Army, representing soldiers stationed all around the world.

“Being a soldier musician is extremely important to me. First of all, I am extremely proud to serve as an active duty soldier, and making music for the Army and representing other soldiers all throughout the world makes it even better,” said Danho.

Danho, who plays saxophone in the elite group, has been in the Army for three years.

Danho sent a preliminary tape showcasing his musical talent to the ambassadors. They invited him to a live audition, offered him the job, and he enlisted. His enlistment commitment is up in 2015, but he plans to make a career out of the Army and wants to stay in the band for 20 years.

While Danho has not played overseas, he was part of President Obama’s Inaugural Parade.

“In Cranston, I went to Park View and Cranston East. I was in the band programs at both schools. If it were not for the strength of the instrumental music programs at both schools and the encouragement and instruction I received from band directors Bob Hassan and Mark Colozzi, I surely would not have pursued a career as a professional musician,” he said. “After high school, I received a Bachelos of Music in music education from the Hartt School of the University of Hartford and a Master’s of Music in jazz studies from the University of North Texas.”

Danho has not seen any combat yet but said it is not uncommon for band members to be deployed. For now, he’s focused on his return home.

“I am extremely excited to be able to play in Cranston. The instrumental music programs at Park View and Cranston East had such a positive effect on me as a student,” said Danho.

Bob Hassan, band director and general music instructor at Park View since 1988, has fond memories of Danho.

“Brad was a student of mine at Park View. He came here playing the clarinet. Seeing that we had so many clarinet players, I switched him to tenor saxophone,” Hassan recalled. “Brad was in the jazz band at Park View, and in 1995 he was in the first Park View Band to win a gold medal at a major band festival, the Great East Music Festival, which was held in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is one of many great success stories of the Cranston Music Program.”

Colozzi agreed, adding that there are many Cranston alumni who have landed successful careers in music.

“In the face of all that has been happening with our programs, this is proof of the worth of a solid music program in the public schools,” he said.

Colozzi also shared his memories of Danho and his musical experiences at Cranston East.

“He auditioned for the jazz ensemble as a freshman. Bob Hassan had told me what a fine and up-and-coming musician Brad was. I was less then impressed with Brad's audition and did not take him in the jazz ensemble initially. About midway through the year, one of our tenor saxophonists was not showing up or habitually late for our 6:45 a.m. rehearsals, so I brought Brad on to double his part. The rest is history as he progressed very quickly and ended up being in all-state jazz,” Colozzi said, explaining that Danho was one of only two tenor saxophonists in the state selected for the honor. “He was gaining accolades everywhere we went, including the Berklee College of Music Jazz Festival in Boston. Now, he is one of the top jazz saxophonists in the nation.”

“So what's in an audition?” Colozzi quipped.

For more information about the free concert and the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, go to www.armyfieldband.com.

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