Everybody loves a parade.
The colorful floats, clowns, and general
madness making up that scene simply
cannot be put aside. However, the most
memorable and enjoyable part for me
has always been the marching bands.
Loud, blustery sousaphones, raucous
drums, bright cornets on the air, and
woodwinds blowing through a string of
acrobatic runs that would make a trapeze
artist laugh at the daring of it all.
Of course there have been other writers
of great marches, but the only true
great march-writer is John Philip Sousa.
Truly he is the Beethoven, the Lennon/McCartney,
or the Ellington of his genre. As I
wax rhapsodic about the greatness of
the man and the march as a genre, consider
that from the late 1800s through the
early 1920s, the march was the great
pop music of America, and this man was
the king of the march.
Put in that context,
this collection by the Royal Artillery
Band can be seen as much more than simply
a very fine collection of Sousa’s marches.
This is the fourth volume in the collection
of his complete works, and includes
The Glory of the Yankee Navy and
the official March of the United States
The Stars and Stripes Forever,
which may stand as the absolute apex
of the genre. The lesser known works
on this recording include Tales of
a Traveler, which is broken in to
3 movements ("The Kaffir on the
Karroo", "In the Land of the
Golden Fleece", and "Coronation
March"), the military marches Riders
for the Flag, and The Aviators,
and the scholastic celebration of the
fairer sex Coeds of Michigan.
Every track on this
disc is an absolute treat. The music
is not only light-hearted and fun, but
it is incredibly well executed. While
listening to these performances, it
is often easy to forget how technically
demanding these marches can be. The
runs are played without error, even
when the velocity becomes circus-like.
The more solemn marches are able to
maintain their character without becoming
staid or stodgy. When Ancient and
Honorable Artillery Co. quotes Auld
Lang Syne it is able to be done
with the appropriate amount of levity
without becoming farcical. In general,
this is a collection of nearly flawless
If your heart races
when you hear the thunder of a snare
drum line and crash of the cymbals then
you should own this album. If you appreciate
marches even a little such energetic,
happy music can do nothing but put you
in a great mood. This album comes with
my very highest recommendation.