INDIAN WELLS Stanley McChrystal, former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, spoke Thursday at a reception in Indian Wells preceded by a performance from the Barstow High Jazztecs.

McChrystal was among seven retired generals and the BHS jazz ensemble of 25 at the Renaissance Esmarelda Hotel to close out the 2013 Desert Town Hall speaker series.

Thursday's talks promoted leadership to an audience of students from 15 local schools.

The Jazztecs' performance at the reception, prior to McChrystal's keynote speech, followed last year's effort at the Renaissance Esmarelda, when the band played at the reception for Dr. Robert Ballard, BHS Band Director Tim Garvin noted.

Ballard is credited for discovering the deep-ocean resting place of the Titanic.

For the past 30 years, the Jazztecs have played throughout Southern California and Nevada, with a style that ranges between rock, swing, Latin, pop, blues and jazz, according to Garvin.

However, recent performances such as Thursday's have helped to push the band into the relative spotlight.

"The last five years, it's really starting to take off," Garvin said by phone, as he waited to board the buses that would take the group to Indian Wells. "We've been doing high-profile events ... (which) brings notoriety to the band."

Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at