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The Veterans Band does it again!

Well, these grandfathers have done it again - and they have improved!

I have just received their latest CD from Australia. Entitled "Praise with Brass and Voice", it includes the usual marches and solos that the band's growing following both inside and outside Australia have come to expect. It also includes several Christian songs for male voices - sung by band members themselves.

In general, band members in almost all the bands I know do not like to sing (have you ever tried to get your band members to sing?). But members of the Veterans' Band obviously feel differently, and have decided to release several of these songs with the CD. The result is a wide range of musical items. Perhaps the most unusual is an arrangement of Crimond - a traditional hymn tune - that includes piano, brass and male voices. This is a very unusual combination in the brass band world (particularly considering the fact that it is the band members themselves who are doing the singing!), and demonstrates just how versatile band members are. The music was composed by the band's conductor - Noel Jones. Incidentally, he is also the pianist.

Singing - especially the traditional hymn tune based repertoire - may not be the sort of thing that attracts those of us several decades younger, but the experience has certainly had a positive effect on the band's intonation. Two years ago, when I wrote a review of the first CD, I hinted at the band's intonation problems, particularly when playing their signature piece - another Noel Jones composition - called "Veterans' Praise". The second CD, however, displays few such weaknesses. Congratulations gentlemen!

I am posting three tracks from the CD here to give you an idea of the quality of the playing. The first track is a cornet solo by Arthur Withers, the band's principal cornettist. He has a beautiful tone. His musicianship shows through too, particularly in the way he shapes the phrases. I am willing to bet he is using a Dennis Wick 3 mouthpiece. This is a popular model among seasoned Salvation Army cornet players. What do you think? The piece is entitled "Love's Descent". It is a standard in the Salvation Army repertoire. Download it here.

The second piece is a Noel Jones composition. It is a fanfare based on Waltzing Matilda - an Australian folk song. It shows up the different sound colours in the band rather well. It also gives you a chance to hear just a bit of horns. Why the horns? Well, my father is playing in the horn section and I just couldn't let you all think that his section wasn't important, could I? Download it here.

The third piece is a march entitled "Victors Acclaimed". As befits the Veterans Band, this stirring music was written about sixty years ago when many in the Veterans band were either teenagers or just about to enter that phase of life. It was a time when the Second World War was ending and the troops were returning home. Download it here.

You can read my review of an earlier CD by the Veterans' Band by clicking here.

The CD can be purchased from The Salvation Army Southern Territory (Australia) headquarters, 5 Hamilton St, Mont Albert, Victoria, 3127, Australia.
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