From Fife and Drum Album Review February 27 2012, 1 Comment

By: Jack Kopstein, World Military Bands An Album for the Ages FROM FIFE AND DRUM Marine Band Recordings 1890-1988 (CD 73 Minutes-17 tracks) This is an Album for the Ages and celebrates the 190th Anniversary of “The Presidents Own” United States Marine band under the direction of Colonel John R Bourgeois. From Fife and Drum really underscores the genesis of the Marine band as a recording entity. The title represents the lineage of the world renowned band which was founded on July 11th 1798. The band, which is America’s oldest musical organization, performs music on this recording, and has become synonymous with their record of achievement. The historical content is worth the price alone beginning with an introduction by music critic Paul Hume followed by the announcement of John Philip Sousa’s “Washington Post” march. This was a common practice back in 1890 when the march was recorded. The digital processing is absolutely superb, particularly in the first four cuts which include the afore mentioned “Washington Post,” “The Thunderer,” and the “Creanonian Polka,” a cornet solo which is classic band music of  the nineteenth century. The voice interlude following the cornet solo provides an excellent overview of the Marine band and their contribution to the heritage and culture as well as the ceremonial of the United States. There is a virtual array of great band music and transcriptions on the album, such as “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 14” by Franz Liszt and Franz Von Suppé’s “Overture Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna.” The turn of the century style is imitated with a cute little ragtime tune called “Crazy Bones,” originally recorded in 1914. The band performs the “Marines Hymn” on The Dream Hour, an NBC radio programme which featured the band every week in music for “shut-ins.” In the major work on the recording, Colonel John R Bourgeois selected the brilliant work for band by Clare Grundman titled “Concord” in which we hear Revolutionary songs. The National Hymn of America, “God of Our Fathers,” is heard in a magnificent rendition. It is a 19th-century American Christian hymn, written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1876. The final cut on this magnificent album is the march “Washington Post,” which served to bring the Marine band full circle from their earliest recording of 1898 to 1988. The recording technique may have changed over the intervening years from 1898, but the one sustaining factor remains as the absolutely marvelous musicianship of the United States Marine band. The colour enclosure with the CD is highly informative giving an excellent background on the recording. Overall, this is an awesome collection by the United States Marine band that grows more amazing by each track. Anyone with a love of good solid band music would be wise to invest in this disc. Click to Purchase From Fife and Drum