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Flying on Instruments jazzes up routines of members, audiences

MADISON – Music, specifically jazz, has attracted a group of people that didn’t have much in common . . . except for the thrill of performing again.

Most members of “Flying on Instruments” work in the aerospace industry and hail from diverse areas of the country. Most have jazz experience from high school, college or jazz ensembles, bassist Dave Bradford of Madison said.

“These guys and gals are a great bunch of people. Most are not only working (in the STEM/space industry) but are also working on master’s degrees,” Bradford said. “Somehow, they manage to get together twice a week to play jazz.” Band members work as scientists, software analysts, electrical engineers, physicists and in electronics.

In July 2020, Trace Hill of Madison organized the band, which “started gigging publicly” in May 2022. He “had always mused about starting an amateur jazz band.” The pandemic provided free time to act on his idea.

“Playing music has always been therapeutic for me. I figured a lot of folks could benefit from having a musical outlet during such uncertain times,” Hill said. “We fell into a groove within the first rehearsal. Everyone had a blast. We were hooked.”

Music has connected band members:

* Trace Hill — Madison, band leader, drums.

* Dave Bradford — Madison, bass.

* Sean Bayman — Huntsville, trumpet, arranger.

* Tatjana Fisher — Madison, flute.

* Courtney Gallen — Huntsville, clarinet.

* Annalise Arroyo — Madison, trombone, flute, alto.

* Adam Scott — Madison, trumpet.

* Christopher Smith — Huntsville, trombone, recorder, arranger, baritone.

* Nicole Hunkeapillar — Huntsville, keyboard.

* Ben Emmerson — Huntsville, guitar.

“Our current band’s first practice gig was for friends and family in Nicole Hunkeapillar’s backyard,” Bradford said. “Since then, we’ve played for The Lodge, an active seniors’ community in Huntsville, and at Bridge Street.”

Flying on Instruments will perform at the ninth annual Alabama Women in Jazz Festival sponsored by Valley Arts and Entertainment on Sept. 10 in Huntsville and at Greene Street Farmers’ Market on Oct. 20.

The band’s set list will entertain jazz enthusiasts and other listeners: “Blue Skies,” Irving Berlin (Ella Fitzgerald version); “Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie; “Blue Trane,” John Coltrane; “In a Sentimental Mood,” Duke Ellington; “St. James Infirmary,” traditional; “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” Fats Waller; “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” Duke Ellington; “Fly Me to the Moon,” Sinatra version, Bart Howard; “Girl from Ipanema,” Antonio Carlos Jobim; “In the Mood,” Joe Garland, Glenn Miller; and “Call Me Maybe,” band’s version, Carly Rae Jeppson. Their full repertoire is much larger.

The band is actively seeking bookings for fall and the holidays. A smaller ensemble can perform if the venue can’t accommodate the entire group.

For more information, email flyingoninstrumentsjazz@gmail.com or visit Facebook/Flying on Instruments Jazz.

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