The road show was conceived by pianist-director Bud Forrest, former accompanist for the Singing Sergeants of the U.S. Air Force, marking its 20th touring-year during a week of performances at the Mesa Arts Center. The two-hour touring show opened with Forrest's String of Pearls orchestra playing "St. Louis Blues March" that was based on W.C. Handy's 1914 chart, later arranged in march tempo by 1940s bandleader Jerry Gray.
More than 50 songs from the war years followed, including a sing-along to Lionel Hampton's "Hey Ba-Ba Re-Bop" and a peppy song-and-dance routine to Johnny Mercer's "Accentuate the Positive." There were vocal ballads, including "All or Nothing at All" and "I'll Be Seeing You," and a military-salute segment featuring the theme songs of four branches of the armed forces, the emcee asking audience members who served to stand for recognition and applause.
There also were sad songs like "We'll Meet Again" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris," as well as the happier sounds of "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "Bugle Call Rag." Through it all, the agile dancers danced the Lindy Hop and jitterbugged through rapid twirls and remarkable acrobatic moves.
The final selections of "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "In the Mood" were capped by "America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)," many in the audience quietly singing along as the show ended.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.