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Jazz and Adventure for Veterans Day 2013

  • George Weems, Navy test pilot.
    George Weems, Navy test pilot.
  • George Thackray Weems.
    George Thackray Weems.
  • Chief Warrant Officer William S. McCulloch is the director of the Jazz Ambassadors.
    Chief Warrant Officer William S. McCulloch is the director of the Jazz Ambassadors.
  • Master Sergeant Marva Lewis is the band's vocalist.
    Master Sergeant Marva Lewis is the band's vocalist.
November 11, 2013
Veterans Day, Nov. 11, brings a concert by the U.S. Army’s Jazz Ambassadors, and a book talk on a Navy pilot’s adventurous 1950 flight.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College celebrates Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 11, with a book talk about an adventurous Navy test pilot and a free concert by the Jazz Ambassadors, “The Musical Ambassadors” of the United States Army.  

The celebration begins at 5 p.m. in Hynson Lounge with a PowerPoint talk by Gwen Manseau, editor of her great-uncle George Thackray Weems’s memoir, Box Kite to Bali: The Last Great Adventure of a U.S. Navy Pilot.  The Jazz Ambassadors big band will play at 7:30 in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts.  And in between, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., Washington College Dining Services will host a “Red, White, and Blue” dinner in the Main Dining Room of Hodson Hall Commons. Veterans will eat for free with a valid ID; the price for the general public is $10.75 per person.

George Thackray “Bee” Weems wrote Box Kite to Bali just before he died in a plane crash at age 30. His memoir recounts how, in the winter of 1950, he flew a De Havilland Dragon Rapide from England to Australia with three other men, including his father, renowned navigator P.V.H. Weems. The 23-day trip took them to exotic locales throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 

George Weems, Navy test pilot.

Gwen Manseau, an international trade attorney with the U.S. Department of Commerce, says her great uncle left a treasure trove of manuscripts, letters, photos and travel documents in a trunk that was stored in a family attic for more than 50 years. Shortly before his death, he had created two drafts of a memoir about the 1950 trip, which the popular national magazine The Saturday Evening Post was planning to publish. Manseau drew from both manuscripts to create the Box Kite to Bali book, incorporating many of the photos and documents Weems had carefully saved and adding biographical details and historical context that enrich the tale. 

Before becoming an attorney, Manseau worked in academic publishing as a philosophy editor, and in several start-up Internet companies. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and her law degree from the University of Virginia. She will sign books during a reception following her talk, which is free and open to the public.

Known as the “Musical Ambassadors of the Army” and “America’s Big Band,” the Jazz Ambassadors are the Army’s official touring big band. This 19-member ensemble, formed in 1969, has received acclaim both at home and abroad performing America’s original musical art form. Concerts by the Jazz Ambassadors are designed to entertain all types of audiences, with custom compositions and arrangements that highlight the group’s creative talents and gifted soloists. Their diverse repertoire includes big band swing, bebop, Latin, contemporary jazz, standards, popular tunes, Dixieland, vocals, and patriotic selections.

The band has appeared in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and throughout Europe. Notable performances include concerts at international jazz festivals in Switzerland, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands, and appearances at the Kennedy Center Honors and on The Colbert Report. In addition, the Ambassadors have shared the stage with outstanding jazz artists such as Gordon Goodwin, Bobby Shew, Ernie Watts, and the Dave Brubeck All-Star Quintet.

Although the jazz concert is free and open to the public and tickets will be available at the door, attendees are encouraged to reserve a ticket in advance by email at concertseries@washcoll.edu or by phone, 410- 778-7839.  


Last modified on Nov. 7th, 2013 at 4:15pm by .