PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua – U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Vincent Moody, a trumpet player attached to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort for Continuing Promise 2015, said he is proud of the way he and his fellow musicians are able to contribute to the mission by building relationships through music.
"Our first performance was the opening ceremony in Belize, and there was a Belizean military band there, and it was great speaking with them," Moody said. "They're always so happy to have American musicians there, because jazz is an American art form."
Communicating Through Music
Originally from Severn, Maryland, Moody has been in the Navy for 12 years and is assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band "Uncharted Waters." As the Comfort travels to Central America, South America and the Caribbean, he has had the opportunity to interact with citizens of each host nation.
In Nicaragua, Moody and his fellow musicians had the opportunity to host a workshop and perform with students from several local high schools. They performed public concerts in Bilwi Central Park here and in the village of Tupai, where members of the Miskito tribe showed the band how to play music on indigenous instruments made from tortoise shells and cow jaw bones.
"It is great to be able to get out to different parts of the local communities like the schools or orphanages," said Moody. "When we perform for the locals, I think it helps expand the impact that this mission has."
Adapting Modern Music
Band leader U.S. Navy Ensign Joel Davidson describes Moody as a great sailor who displays a passion for being a musician. He also praised his ability to adapt the instrumentation of the group for different events the band takes part in during the ongoing civil-military deployment, which is known as CP-15.
"Moody is incredibly talented, and the crowd responds really well to his trumpet playing and vocals,” Davidson said. “He takes his craft very seriously, devoting dozens of hours a week to personal practice and to writing arrangements for the band. He's arranged almost everything that we've done for the brass band.”
In addition to New Orleans style jazz, "Uncharted Waters" also covers music by popular artists, blending hip-hop and rhythm and blues with the brass band sound.
Moody received a master's degree in music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia and regularly uses his talents in musical arrangement to tailor popular music to fit the brass band style, incorporating the trombone, saxophone, trumpet or tuba.
"The unique thing about our band is we play popular songs, but there's no actual sheet music made for brass bands. We have to write that on our own," explained Moody. "The brass band is kind of close to my heart, because I've done a lot of writing for them, merging popular music with the brass band sound."
As a Navy musician, Moody has had the opportunity to perform at presidential inaugurations, special ceremonies for foreign dignitaries and international parades. But he also enjoys immersing himself in the culture of each new place he visits. His Navy career has taken him to 45 different countries and three continents, he said.
Part of a Team
As a sailor and musician aboard a hospital ship, Moody said he understands he is part of a team that is working to not only provide medical assistance to host nations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, but also to build stronger partnerships and demonstrate U.S. commitment to the region.
"Having a band at an event sometimes opens up doors to other forms of communication, it's a different perspective people aren't used to seeing," said Moody. "Each country we visit and play in is an outreach opportunity, and it's just a great experience to be that bridge of communication."
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.