In Shining Armour – Andrew Justice

Brett Baker, Paul Woodward, Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel Band

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 Everything good seems to come in pairs at the moment – brass recordings are no exception, and this one features two top-flight trombonists on two CDs.

In Shining Armour is a collection of trombone solos and duets drawn from the archives of the secular and Salvation Army brass band worlds, which have overlapped on a more regular basis in recent years.

The soloists need little introduction, as they feature regularly as end-chair men with the Black Dyke Band and have a wealth of banding experience between them – Brett in many of the country's top contesting bands and Paul with numerous SA bands and more latterly as Co-Principal of the Black Dyke Band, appearing together for the first time as joint soloists in this project.

I say archives as the first of the two CD set is a very retrospective look at solos perhaps more familiarly heard on Sunday afternoon bandstands in days gone by, many of them previously unrecorded on CD. The second CD, still featuring works largely written up to 50 years ago, but with some more contemporary offerings from both sides of the banding spectrum, are more at home on the concert platform, but both discs are of great interest to the student of trombone repertoire.

Of particular interest on the lighter of the two discs are solos from such grandees of the brass world as Frederick Hawkes, Harold Moss, Ray Steadman-Allen, and Gordon Langford, not to mention Gounod and Handel! A title track duet from the SA shelves entitled In Shining Armour contrasts nicely with the traditional Scarborough Fair arranged for trombone duet, and adds variety to the disc.

Inclusion of the Elgar Howarth and Buxton Orr concertos adds considerable gravitas to the occasion and gives Brett Baker and the band, ably and sensitively conducted by Chris Houlding, an opportunity to develop a more serious musical expression. The slow second movement of the Elgar Howarth Concerto is a particularly impressive, if haunting, highlight.

The most recent composition, For The King, originally written for Mark Baker, a former trombonist with the New York Staff Band of The Salvation Army and a member of the composer's family, is recorded by Paul Woodward for the first time here.

Brett Baker has penned the booklet notes, which gives a fascinating insight into many of the older solos that may not be aired very often.

For those of you who might be intrigued by a collection of nineteen trombone solos ancient and modern, the skill and musicianship of the soloists and band places this recording high on the shopping list of the serious and casual trombone aficionado.

Andrew Justice: The Trombonist Magazine of the British Trombone Society

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