The Kennedy Center

U.S. Navy Commodores


The Navy's premier jazz ensemble, the Commodores, presents the finest in America's truly original music. A specialty unit of the United States Navy Band in D.C., the group features 18 of the Navy's top jazz and "big band" musicians. Under the leadership of Senior Chief Musician Philip M. Burlin, the Commodores combine the best of jazz and popular music.

Since their founding in 1969, the Commodores have become one of the most acclaimed jazz ensembles in the country. Many jazz legends have appeared with the group, including Ray Charles, Louie Bellson, Terry Gibbs, Bruce Johnstone, Bob Mintzer, James Moody, Clark Terry, and Eugene "Snooky" Young. In addition, they have opened for the Beach Boys and appeared on ABC's "Good Morning, America." They are highly sought after by the nation's foremost jazz festivals and educational conferences such as the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention, The Midwest Clinic, the Detroit/Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Elkhart Jazz Festival. They are also featured at the annual Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium.

The Commodores trace their roots to before World War II, when band members with jazz experience formed dance bands and rehearsed on an as-needed basis for specific occasions. Responding to public demand for unique types of music as well as the changing needs of Navy recruiting, then Ensign Ned Muffley formed a dance band in 1966 from members of the concert and ceremonial units, and in 1968, preparations began to make the ensemble a separate group. In January 1969, the dance band officially became the Commodores jazz ensemble.

Their performances are high-energy affairs that not only pay tribute to the legendary big bands of yesterday, but also feature original compositions by members of the group. In 2005, the Commodores released their latest compact disc, Three Shades of Blue, which featured many of these new compositions in addition to fresh arrangements of popular favorites. The Commodores continue to preserve the great heritage of jazz while also being an innovative force for the future.

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/21/2018: U.S. Navy Band Commodores

From John Coltrane and Clark Terry to Artie Shaw, the U.S. Navy Band Commodores, the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble, celebrate their 49th year serving the Navy and the nation through the legacy of America’s quintessential art form: jazz.

Video 9/9/2016: Target Family Night: U.S. Navy Band Commodores

As the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble, the U.S. Navy Band Commodores have been performing big band jazz for the Navy and America since 1969. The Commodores write and arrange much of their music, and present concerts that are an eclectic mix of big band, jazz vocal arrangements and new instrumental songs written specifically for the Commodores of today.

Video 9/4/2013: U.S. Navy Commodores

The U.S. Navy’s premier jazz and big band ensemble presents the finest in America's original music.

Video 9/6/2011: U.S. Navy Commodores

The U.S. Navy's premier jazz ensemble presents the finest in America's original music. A specialty unit of the U.S. Navy Band, the group features 18 of the Navy's top jazz and "big band" musicians.

U.S. Navy Commodores