The 312th Army Jazz Band from Lawrence is coming to the Crest Theater to perform at the 23rd annual Great Bend Jazz Festival. This free concert sponsored by the Great Bend Tribune and the Great Bend Jazz Festival starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Crest, 1905 Lakin Ave.
Music lovers won’t need a ticket, but they will want to come early as doors open at 7 p.m. with pre-music provided by the Great Bend High School Jazz Band.
The 312th Army Jazz Band is under the musical direction of Sgt. 1st Class Chris Reynolds.
The program will include many favorite jazz standards and contemporary compositions including compositions by The Glenn Miller Band, Frank Mantooth and Jeff Jarvis, Reynolds said. “I am excited to feature the Iowa Street Jazz Combo under the direction of Staff Sgt. Scott Griffitt, vocalist Sgt. Katelyn Lindsey and an array of soloists.”
The annual jazz festival has developed a loyal following by bringing in world-class musicians, coordinator Robert Feldt said. “We’ve had some wonderful performers.”
GBHS Band Director Mark DeWald said the local 22-member jazz band has had opportunities to work with jazz artists to improve their musical skills and for public performances. On Friday, after attending the Friends University Jazz Festival in Wichita, they were home in time to perform at the halftime of a basketball game.
312th Army Band
The 312th Army Band is under the 88th Regional Support Command, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
It features a marching band, concert band, rock band, jazz combo, blues band, brass quintet, woodwind quintet and ceremonial detail, all members of the U.S. Army and trained musicians. They travel across the country promoting Army and community relations by providing quality entertainment. The band is also known for its ability to lift the spirits of U.S. troops and civilians alike. They have traveled the world playing concerts for members of the U.S. military to lift their morale.
The band was activated on Oct. 1, 1973, in Lawrence as part of the 89th Army Reserve Command, headquartered in Wichita. Although not officially a descendant, the band unofficially was reorganized from the 89th Division Band that deployed during the campaign to reoccupy France during World War II. For a brief period in the early 1970s, the 312th existed as the only all-female band in the Army Reserve. In 1977, an aggressive recruiting campaign was undertaken for both male and female musicians.
The 312th Army Band has grown from those early years to its present roster made up of soldiers from about 30 different professions and academic studies. The band has performed for the Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Chiefs and other regional and national events. The 312th was also named an official “Bicentennial of the United States Constitution” band and the state of Kansas named it an official “Eisenhower Centennial” band.
Other major sponsors for the free concert on March 4 are the Barton County Arts Council, CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions and the Great Bend Kiwanis Club.
This story was updated on Feb. 18, 2017