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Fire in the Blood
Kevin LARSSON
Temple 125
[3:08]
William HIMES
Soli Deo Gloria
[4:11]
Steven PONSFORD
Life Ablaze [9:53]
Stephen BULLA
Scottish Folk Variants
[7:01]
Dudley BRIGHT
Pursuing Horizons
[12:19],
Erik SILFVERBERG
A Celtic Blessing [3:09]
Kevin LARSSON
They shall come from the East [6:48]
Paul SHARMAN
Soul-Full [5:35]
Flow Gently, Sweet Afton [4:57]
Paul LOVATT-COOPER
Fire in the Blood [9:34]
see end of review for individual performers
The International Staff Band Staff/Dr. Stephen Cobb
rec. World of Sound, March and May 2012, Henry Wood Hall, London
SP&S 252 [66:42]

This disc features the Salvation Army’s International Staff Band (ISB), based in London. The ISB is the Army’s premier band and one of the finest brass ensembles in the world. First established in 1891, it is similar to other British-style brass bands in that it comprises only brass and percussion instruments- no winds, strings or other instrumentation. The basic brass band has 25 or 26 members with two or three percussionists. Salvation Army bands differ from other brass bands by adding an extra tenor trombone and sometimes an extra tenor horn and baritone horn, and by re-arranging the cornet positions. The Salvation Army bands have a long tradition of composing and performing much of their own music, and have been led by many outstanding musicians and composers over the years. These have included Richard Slater, Peter Graham, Wilfred Heaton and Ray Steadman-Allen. On this CD the ISB performs ten numbers that demonstrate their excellence and dedication to their ministry and their musicianship.
 
One of my favorite pieces here is Scottish Folk Variants.This features three Scottish folk songs: Bonnie Dundee, The Skye Boat Song and The Dashing White Sergeant. Derick Kane showcases the marvellously rich timbre of the euphonium. Often compared to the cello in the orchestra, the euphonium has an extensive range similar to that of the baritone and the trombones. Derick plays his solos with strength and agility. Another standout is Soul-Full, where the band gets a chance to swing. This features soloist Richard Woodrow and his flugel horn. Brass bands traditionally have only one flugel horn. Similar in size and range to the cornet, the flugelhorn is the same length as the cornet but has a much wider bore, which give it a fulsome effect. Its darker and more mellow sound is often featured on melodic or jazzy solos.
 
The band demonstrates wonderful balance between the instruments. The numbers work well due to the inspiring and thoughtful arrangements, as well as superb musicianship. Brass bands are traditionally bottom-heavy, with basically four tubas and a bass trombone. The bass parts here are played with great sensitivity, allowing the mid-range conical instruments (euphoniums, tenors and baritones) as well as the trombones the freedom to articulate the spirit of each piece.
 
The program notes give good descriptions the music. They also provide a brief history of the ISB and a biography of Dr. Cobb. The band personnel are listed in the notes.
 
Bruce McCollum   

Individual performers
Gary Fountain (Soprano Cornet), Kevin Ashman, Carl Nielsen, Paul Sharman, Ian Wilson, Martyn Bryant, Nicola Redhead, Kevin Coates, Nigel Hills, Darren Bull (Cornet), Richard Woodrow (Flugel Horn), David Winch, Andrew Dickinson, Stephen Hanover, Gary Terrar (Tenor Horn), Iain Parkhouse, Darren Willis, Anthony Smith (Baritone Horn), Andrew Justice, Lyndon Moorby, Stuart Hall (Tenor Trombone), Bradley Turnbull (Bass Trombone), Derick Kane, Jonathan Evans (Euphonium), Michael Calland, Carl Woodman (E-flat Bass), Martin Tiplady, Trevor Caffull (B-flat Bass), Robert Hayward, Ashley Durrant, Christopher House (Percussion).


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