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A Walk on the Light Side
Stephen BULLA

Montclair Citadel


From that Sacred Hill

Trad. arr. MORRISON
Ye Banks and Braes

Harry JAMES arr. Mark FREEH

Carnival of Venice


Go down, Moses

Trad. arr. Peter GRAHAM
Hine e Hine


Simple Gifts

Trevor DAVIS

Knowing You




Don’t Let the Devil!


The Wonder of it all


All to Jesus


Since Jesus

Trad. arr. BOWES
David of the White Rock


Tomado de la Mano


Every time I feel the Spirit


Folk Festival

Trad. arr. Peter GRAHAM
Swedish Folk Song

Hendon Band of the Salvation Army/Stephen Cobb
Recorded November 2004, Watford Town Hall. DDD
SP&S SPS 194 CD [62:15]

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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 technical control.

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 soloists.

Christopher Thomas

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