Monument CD Reviews – Justice & Swancott

Monument CD

Accompanied by The Black Dyke Band, Conductor Dr Nicholas Childs.  Released November 2004.

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Review By Andrew Justice:

The term ‘virtuoso' has been devalued in recent years by being applied to assorted undeserving players and groups. This CD redresses the balance, certainly in terms of trombone playing in general, and within the brass band movement specifically.

Brett Baker, Principal Trombone of the world famous Black Dyke Band (which consummately accompanies Brett on most tracks of this CD), and a world-travelled soloist in his own right, has released his latest collection of solos which he describes as a tribute to the various individuals and groups that have contributed to his career as a trombonist with such groups as the National Brass Band of Great Britain, Forest of Dean Band, The Fairey Band, Flowers Band, and since 2000, Black Dyke Band.

The title track Monument, submitted by the young composer / tubist Marc Owen for the Leeds University / Black Dyke Band Composer's Competition in 2001, immediately establishes Brett in the class of a virtuoso, providing ample room for his technical skills, sound concept, range, and the immaculate style for which he is well-known. Further virtuosic solos such as the old cornet solo Hailstorm (complete with triple-tonguing polka!), played here as if designed for the trombone, Ivor Hodgson's Sonata, Earth's Fury by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, all remind the listener that this is an exceptional talent being displayed.

Lighter in nature, but nonetheless in turn displaying the virtuosic elements of Brett's playing listed above, such gems as Dorsey's Trombonology, Bill Geldard's arrangement of Dark Eyes, Pryor's Thoughts of Love, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (arranged by Howard Snell), and Peter Graham's The Name all provide variety and highlights of their own.

By way of change, Brett has teamed up with the 2 other permanent members of the Black Dyke Band trombone section, together with co-principal Paul Woodward, to record the Gareth Wood Four Pieces for Four Trombones, a gentle reminder of the rarely-heard trombone choir concept.

For all aspiring trombonists within the brass band and related fields, this is essential listening to discover how far forward Brett has placed the finishing line, for those who think brass band trombonists still feature The Acrobat in their repertoire, this will be a shock for you!

Sydney Swancott
The Conductor – Spring 2005:

Monument, by Marc Owen, was written for the Leeds University and Black Dyke Band Composer's Competition in 2001, and here receives ints premiere recording and gives the disc its title. The sub-titles of the work's three movements indicate the style of the music; Allegro de Bravura, Solemne-New York 11 Sept. 2001 reflecting the sadness, horror and utter devastation of 9/11, and Presto Molto Agitata-Free Spirit. Brett Baker gives an excellent performance of the concerto and is ably supported by Black Dyke whose accompaniment, particularly in the third movement, is an integral part as the Free Spirit flies away!

The silky smoothness of Bill Geldard's arrangement of the traditional tune Dark Eyes contrasts with William Rimmer's triple tongue polka The Hailstorm which, whilst a novelty on the trombone, receives a slick and showy performance.

Two items are unaccompanied: firstly, the premiere recording of Sonata by Ivor Hodgson, whose two short movements explore the full range of the trombone and secondly Gareth Wood's Four Pieces for Four Trombones. Tango aptly describes piece one; piece two entitled Song has the melody in the first trombone; piece three, Parody is fun, whilst piece four, Lament, is unlike most music with this title in that it has happy moments. Both works are a model of unaccompanied playing with the quartet being notable for the balance of the four parts.

Brett Baker makes Tommy Dorcey's difficult fun piece Trombonology sound easy, which in this Alan Fernie arrangement also features John Doyle on flugel horn. Peter Graham's The Name, based on his own song written for The Salvation Army There is beauty in the name of Jesus, is expressive and has excellent control. Arthur Pryor's Thoughts of Love, written when he was only 18 years of age, is an absolutely show stopping performance of superb quality, and Howard Snell's arrangement of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square is dreamingly sentimental and quite lovely.

The third premiere recording is Paul Lovatt-Cooper's Earth's Fury. Composed especially for Brett Baker, the work is graphically descriptive. It firstly depicts a small American town that is destroyed by a twister, whilst the second movement – Fallen Memories – is reflective as rebuilding commences, and finally in Succeed the Storm the original ideas return as the town is almost back to normal. This short concerto of approximately eleven minutes receives a wonderfully expressive performance from both soloist and band and brings the disc to a fitting close. Needless to say Black Dyke's accompaniment throughout is exemplary.

Trombonists will love this CD. It comes complete with excellent biographies of the soloist and the composers and has comprehensive programme notes. Also included are potted CVs of Dr. Nicholas Childs and Black Dyke Band, plus a number of photographs. It is thoroughly recommended.



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