This new release by
the Hendon Band of the Salvation Army,
for many years one of the crack outfits
of the Salvationist band world, explores,
as the title implies, the lighter side
of the repertoire. The music ranges
between originals and arrangements,
the familiar and not so familiar, including
folk song arrangements, jazz numbers
and several pieces by Salvationist composers
carrying a Christian message.
With such a variety
of music, most of the pieces being no
more than a couple of minutes in duration,
it is perhaps no surprise that the overall
consistency of the music is somewhat
erratic. Things get off to a cracking
start with Stephen Bulla’s march,
Montclair Citadel, a lively,
sparkling opening number that metamorphoses
part-way through into Onward Christian
Soldiers! In the hands of a less
able talent the result could have sounded
contrived yet Bulla avoids the potential
pitfalls with aplomb.
Several other well
known Salvationists figure in the programming.
Ray Steadman-Allen is represented
by a rather trite arrangement of Simple
Gifts not presenting his talents
at their best, whilst Norman Bearcroft’s
touching little transcription of the
spiritual, Every Time I Feel the
Spirit, is considerably more successful.
Peter Graham provides two arrangements
of traditional folk songs, the attractive
Maori melody Hine e Hine
and less successful melodically, the
simply titled Swedish Folk Song
that closes the disc in rousing style.
Both receive typically skilful Peter
Graham scoring. Whilst on the folk theme
Shostakovitch’s Folk Festival
from The Gadfly, for many years
now a familiar concert favourite with
bands outside the Salvation Army in
Howard Snell’s arrangement, here sees
an alternative arrangement by Martin
Cordner, every bit as effective and
played with verve.
In between the highlights
I have to say that I found my attention
wandering somewhat. The Wonder of
it all, All to Jesus and
Since Jesus are pleasant enough
but say little that lingers in the memory,
whilst much the same can be said for
Knowing You by Trevor Davis.
Of greater consistency
however is the playing of the band itself.
There are some lovely relaxed, restrained
sounds in the slower numbers and an
admirable contribution from the soloists.
David Daws and Matthew Cobb share the
honours as cornet soloists in Carnival
of Venice and David of the White
Rock respectively, with both players
amply demonstrating their abilities
in stylistically contrasting pieces.
Trombonist Paul Hopkins features in
Joshua, one of the more substantial
offerings on the disc in which he shows
both an impressive range and considerable
A nice touch in the
accompanying booklet is a brief personal
introduction to each of the pieces by
individual members of the band although
it is a shame that there is no information
provided on the history of the band.
There is however an address for their
own website although this was unavailable
when I attempted to access it.
All in all then a bit
of a mixed bag but despite the shortcomings
of some of the music there is much to
enjoy in the playing of the band and