The Crystal Palace – Brett Baker (Trombone) John Wilson (Piano) Review for the NABBC by Sydney Swancott

Originally from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, Brett Baker joined the Fairey Band in 1992. In 2000 he became a member of Black Dyke Band and within the world of brass bands has become known as a leading trombone soloist and educator. To date he has commissioned 100 compositions for the instrument.

He is a clinician for Michael Rath Brass Instruments, principal trombone of Black Dyke Band, previously President of the British Trombone Society and Chairman of the awards committee for the International Trombone Association.  Currently Dr. Brett Baker is the Programme Leader for Musical Arts at the university of Salford and editor of Glissando magazine.

Brett's area of research includes trombone repertoire and a number of his discoveries are included on this disc, which features twelve solos published between 1882 and 1941.

The CD commences with music from Bellini's two act opera Il Parata  (The Pirate), the main theme being arranged by Frederick Berr into a theme and variations solo. This style of solo sets the pattern for ten of the items where technical virtuosity is required.  

The Charmer (Louis F. Boos) was brought to recognition by Arthur Bauer, the young  understudy to the celebrated trombone soloist Arthur Pryor in the John Philip Sousa band. Two composers who were also members of the Sousa band and whose works are included on the disc are Leo Zimmerman and Frank Burnell, who dedicated it to Arthur Pryor, played the 2nd trombone.

Two solos by William Rimmer are featured: St Crispin is an exacting set of variations on a theme that includes one of the earliest requirements for triple tonguing on the trombone. The second solo is Amabel, not as exacting as St Crispin but more in the style of a polka.

In the same year (1905) that Rimmer's solos saw the light of day, R. Smith & Co. published J. Ord Hume's Crystal Palace, which gives the disc its title. Ord Hume would have had fond memories of the glass palace as a contesting venue. 

Completing the theme and variations mode are American Caprice by E. F. Goldman which was used as a test piece in the trombone class of the National Solo Contest in New Zealand between the two world wars. Herbert Clarke's From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific a well known showy cornet solo that has been adapted for the trombone and Jules Levy's The Whirlwind also originally written as a cornet solo has similarly been adapted for a trombone solo. All of the ten solos of this type explore the whole register of the trombone. The clarity and tonal quality is exceptional. 

The two exceptions to the technical solos are Stephen Adams Nirvana and Cadman's At Dawning. 

Nirvana was a popular solo played at the many slow melody contests some 60 years ago and often heard played on the radio sung by a tenor vocalist.

In the 1920s Cadman was considered an expert on American Indian music and he composed a number of pieces including his song At Dawning that reflects the influence of the Indian tribes. Brett Baker produces an exquisite performance of this simple but beautiful melody. 

Brett Baker is the most recorded trombone soloist in his genre and this disc of almost 74 minutes duration is a first class example of trombone solos at their best. The performances are of outstanding quality, all superbly supported by the excellent John  Wilson on the piano.

It would be good if these pieces were to become available with brass band accompaniment and eventually be part of the wider trombone solo repertoire. The CD is a 'must have' for any aspiring trombone soloist. 

Completing the package are comprehensive sleeve notes written by Brett Baker.

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