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NEWS | March 7, 2024

Sounds of the Seychelles: NAVEUR-NAVAF Band supports Cutlass Express 2024

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

At the National Museum of History in downtown Victoria, Seychelles, a crowd gathers for a unique musical performance. As onlookers fill in the front lawn, Musician 3rd Class Andrew Duncan sounds a single note on his saxophone. The sounds of the saxophone are soon followed by a crescendo of brass instruments and vocals. As the pace quickens, the crowd starts to clap and dance to the beat.

Throughout the Seychelles, from Beau Vallon Bay in the north, to Victoria, to the Seychelles Coast Guard base for the Cutlass Express 2024 opening ceremony, the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF)’s Topside Brass Band delighted and entertained dignitaries, distinguished guests, and Seychellois citizens during a series of performances in support of the exercise.

"Our visit to Seychelles was one of the greatest experiences I have had during my 18 years in the U.S. Navy,” said Musician 1st Class Tim Deal, the Topside Brass Band’s Unit Leader. “We had such a blast performing for the local community. The highlights of the trip included performing with Mr. David Andre, the Secretary General of Seychelles' Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts, who also happens to be a singer/songwriter and we had the distinct honor of performing his song, ‘Esper Sa Sanson,’ with him on stage!”

To prepare for these engagements, the team learned Creole music and practiced a myriad of other songs to play to the crowds. Deal learned “Esper Sa Sanson” from scratch, then led his team in performing the ballad alongside Andre. The Brass Band played songs with a local connection, as well as some of their most popular songs and renditions of today’s hits, throughout their many events across Mahé Island. Many of these engagements, or “gigs,” featured Seychellois counterparts, demonstrating the power of music in strengthening bonds and building friendships.

“It was amazing to perform with the Seychelles Defense Academy Band,” said Deal. “Best of all, we loved watching the students dance and sing along with our music at each Plaisance Secondary School, as well as at the Children's Home in President's Village. Each performance was wonderful and we have made many beautiful memories to be cherished for a lifetime."

In addition to their larger public concerts, the Brass Band also played smaller gigs, including a Radio Studio performance for the Seychelles Broadcasting Service. In these more intimate settings, the Band is able to interact on a more personal level, gaining an even deeper understanding of their audience and underscoring the power of music to bring people together. As with many of their performances, the gig they played in studio left the audience wanting more, with the radio host and staff saying they wished the spot was longer.

“This trip makes you pinch yourself to be sure this is actually your job,” said Chief Musician Joseph Schoonmaker, the Band’s lead planner for Cutlass Express 2024. “Every engagement was special. We met so many wonderful people - Seychellois, expats, and tourists. What a beautiful and fascinating country.”

These performances electrified audiences and involved multiple Seychellois bands and organizations, as well. The Seychelles Defense Academy Band and National Brass Band joined for some of their gigs, including the opening ceremony for Cutlass Express 2024 in the Seychelles. Distinguished visitors, including Rear Adm. Calvin Foster, U.S. Sixth Fleet’s vice commander and Director, Maritime Partnership Program, and the U.S. Ambassador to Mauritius and the Seychelles Ambassador Henry Jardine, joined in the festivities on multiple occasions.

The sentiment of appreciation and mutual respect across national boundaries was one shared by our partners, too, including Terry Melanie, a musician in the Seychelles National Brass Band.

“The Navy Band was so amazing. It is like those gigs I see on TV but in real life,” said Melanie. “If we could have more of that in the future, it would be a huge plus for us.”

The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, because these waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the USEUCOM and USAFRICOM areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.

For more information on Cutlass Express, visit,, &