A World War II recording that had been lost for nearly a half-century was discovered in an attic—and it’s believed to be the only known recording by a frontline military band stationed with troops near a battlefield. The band was spontaneously celebrating the end of WWII by laying down a track of music—and now one of their grandsons has rediscovered it, and remastered the discs, with the hopes of winning a Grammy.
Jason Burt grew up hearing his grandfather playing classical and jazz music with his lifelong passion, the trumpet.
As a teen he grew even closer with his grandpa, bonding over a fascination that turned into Jason’s true passion—World War II history.
They spoke often about Richard Burt’s experience as a military musician during the war, where as a 19-year-old private with the 746th Far East Air Force Band in the South Pacific, he played music for front line troops, generals, and foreign dignitaries.
As the war came to an end, the 20-piece band decided to record themselves playing 10 chart-topping songs of the era, including Sentimental Journey. Upon completion of the recording session in a jungle tent, Jason’s grandpa brought the recordings home, where he pressed them into 78rpm records.
The only known album of a frontline band unit that was recorded where the war was taking place, Richard would keep the recordings safe for the next 75 years. In the 80s, he thought he had lost them—and after he passed away, the family had no idea that the records were hiding in the garage.
“In 2019, I came across my grandpa’s recordings, in his garage attic,” Jason told GNN. “The 75-year-old vinyl looked to be in great physical shape.”
As the only grandchild in a musical family that couldn’t read music or play an instrument, it wasn’t clear to Jason, who became a history teacher, what he should do with his grandpa’s most treasured musical items sitting in the closet.
“Six months later, as I sat alone in my house, I decided that it was time to listen to the records. When the needle pressed against the vinyl, I was transported back to 1945 for a private concert with my grandpa—and the sound of his trumpet filled me with joy.”
Watch these young musicians in the jungle in historical 8mm film, shot by band member Joe Milazzo, which was also found in the attic with the records.
“His skill and solos on the recordings were extraordinary for someone so young, and made it clear why he would graduate from Juilliard, after the war,” recalls Jason.
“When the last song on the album ended, it was clear what I needed to do.”
His grandfather had given up on his musical ambitions in order to raise a family, so Jason decided to publish the performances and try to win a Grammy Award on behalf of the 746th Army Air Force Band.
Working tirelessly with two of the best sound engineers in the music industry, he produced the recordings into a full length album that features his grandpa telling the story of the band’s time in the Pacific, and 9 minutes of historical film of the band practicing in the Philippines.
Share this story to help Jason win a Grammy for his Grandpa
Jasons says they are “relentless” in their current pursuit to earn for the wartime band a Best Historical Album Grammy nomination in 2022.
And, to that end, they’ve partnered with the USO, to raise money for the iconic military charity, donating a portion of the earnings while hoping to sell a million albums.
“If you want to help my grandpa reach the pinnacle of today’s musicianship and raise money for the USO, you can own a piece of history by downloading a copy of the album on the 746th Band Website.”
If you stream on Spotify, please follow the artist page, and create playlists of their album, and stream it every day—until the Greatest Generation has a platinum album and a Grammy to go with it. Stream it on Apple Music, too, or purchase on iTunes.
“He’s told me all the stories of the band, and ever since I started the project, I always had the feeling that he was preparing me my whole life to do this for him and his bandmates,” Jason told GNN. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world to be doing this.”