A Christmas Finalé

Christmas always starts early for me. I don’t want it to, but I play in a brass band, and so I’m required to practice Yuletide tunes as early as late October some years. I am usually utterly fed up of Christmas three weeks before it actually arrives.

This year has been a bit better on that front. We have a new Musical Director who’s brought some new musical ideas in, and so we’ve been playing music new to us. There’s been some quite challenging music too, which is great, and I’m always happiest learning and playing music I’ve not had a chance to perform before.

We’ve had two rather excellent pieces of music in our repertoire this year; 3 Kings Swing (which features a monster solo on my part) and Eric Ball’s masterpiece A Kingdom Triumphant. I’ve really enjoyed those.

Anyway, in my search for new music I’ve found a really nice arrangement of the usual Christmas tunes by a composer called Paul Lovatt-Cooper. His piece is called ‘Christmas Finalé, and it sounds pretty tricky to play but very effective as a concert closer. I’d love to give this a go!

Mama

I know it’s not fashionable to prefer the Phil Collin’s era of Genesis over Peter Gabriel, but there’s just something about the poppier approach. I like it. I like it a lot. My favourite Genesis track is this:

This is a great track by any standards.

Comfortably Numb

I don’t have much, if anything, useful to say about the death of David Bowie. I don’t own any of his music. Not sure why; I guess I was just into other bands and artists when I was growing up and I missed his most prolific and successful period, but it is impossible to ignore his influence on many of the bands that I love (just about all the prog rock bands) and on the music industry in general. He was one of the most important figures of recent decades and a positive influence on anyone wanting to be a little bit different.

He wrote some incredible songs, and I’m feeling motivated to get hold of some of his earlier works. ‘Low’ is certainly on the list, but I shall see what I can find.

I had no idea this existed until today, but here is David Bowie singing with one of my all-time musical heroes Dave Gilmour:

There were not many like David Bowie. His was a unique voice, a chance-taker who succeeded while experimenting the crap out of his craft. His songs were very much part of rich vein of music on the radio when I was growing up. He’ll be greatly missed.

Essay for Brass Band

It’s back to band tonight! I love my Christmas break, but I do miss my brass band too.

We will be rehearsing the Regionals piece I should think: Essay by Edward Gregson. It’s a lovely piece of music, full of descriptive sounds and should suit our band nicely. Here’s a version of it from Youtube:

Lovely

Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band

Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band by rutty
Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band, a photo by rutty on Flickr.

This weekend saw me spend 48 hours or so in the most bracing part of England – Skegness for my favourite brass band event of the year, the Butlin’s Mineworkers Championships. Thousands of brass banders managed to get there despite the atrocious weather conditions. Music was played, beer was drunk and (in our case) disappointment in the eventual results was drowned in copious amount of alcohol.

I love this weekend. Love it.

One of the highlights was seeing the Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band in Reds on Saturday evening. They had the well-known trumpet screamer Chad Shoopman with them, and they were absolutely brilliant. I have no idea how the guy can reach some of those notes – it’s totally not natural.

Bring on 2014 (and a better result next time)

Coast

No, not the BBC/OU programme about the UK coastline but an excellent track from the wonderful Devin Townsend.

I seem to have missed a few albums recently. I need to catch up – the guy is one of the Metal world’s best kept secrets