Prescott man makes it his mission to bring military bands to town
The United States Navy Band's jazz ensemble, the Commodores, will take the stage Thursday at the Yavapai College Performance Hall.
The band's appearance is through the efforts of longtime Prescott resident John Hafer, 79, who has been bringing military bands to town for 17 years. Hafer is manager of the local Swing Shift Big Band and a member of the Jazz Octet that plays for veterans at the Bob Stump Memorial Medical Center from time to time.
Admission to the performance is free; advance tickets are available at York Motors or at the door. Hafer encourages people to get tickets in advance. The show starts at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The Navy Commodores are returning to Prescott for the first time in six years, Hafer said, adding that it usually takes that length of time to book a military band. The Commodores' repertoire includes popular, dance and jazz tunes.
The music of the Commodores suits Hafer's love of the genre. He retired to Prescott in the early 1990s after a 32-year career with a large California grocery store chain. Despite his work, he was always involved with music "on the side," he said.
"Music has always been a part of my life," Hafer said.
He began singing in church at the age of 4 and took up trumpet playing when he was 7. For 65 years, he has played in gigs from coast to coast.
From 1957 until 1964, Hafer was first trumpet with the Trumpet Herald performers who kicked off the annual Rose Parade that precedes the Rose Bowl football game.
Hafer also organizes the high school bands that perform in the Prescott Chamber of Commerce downtown Christmas Parade.
"Being a musician is my second love," Hafer said. "I love to play, sing and bring joy into the community," he said of his many years of booking military bands for Prescott residents. "The Navy Commodores are a great band," he said, with "a lot of top musicians."
The Commodores are a specialty unit of the Washington, D.C.'s Navy Band, featuring 18 of the Navy's top jazz and big band musicians, according to the band's website. Founded in 1969, the Commodores play the music of the legendary big bands of yesterday, along with original compositions and arrangements by members of the group.