Review from 4 bars rest – england

Brass Opus
Goteborg Brass, New Zealand Community Trust Woolston Brass, Addington Brass
Guest Soloist: Richard Marshall
Christchurch Town Hall
New Zealand
Sunday 19th March

Excerpts from the full review. (to read the full review go here.)

Richard Marshall (here as a soloist on behalf of Besson Musical Instruments, but unfortunately not as a contest player with any band) performed at the Town Hall as the guest soloist in a massed bands concert.

He indeed was the headline act, and over 500 people made the effort on a sultry night to hear him perform quite brilliantly with Addington Brass, whilst we are sure the audience was also swelled by the fact that the Goteborg Brass Band were also here making a concert appearance as part of their extended Australian/New Zealand Tour.

The event also benefited from some proper National television coverage as well, as NZ Channel One sent a crew to interview Richard as well as the conductor of Goteborg, Bengt Eklund (remember him 4BR fans from Norway this year? Although we didn’t quite get to speak to him this time, as 4BR had to be whisked off to the bar with Steve Stuart for a soft drink or three!) and the Principal Cornet of the Woolston Band, Kevin Hickman, who some people in the Hillingdon Band will remember as he was playing with the band a few years ago when he was on his back packing travels. It meant that an anticipated crowd of around 300 was swelled up, and that must have been great for the promoters, the Second Division Addington Brass who invested a lot of time and money in putting on this event.

Richard Marshall meanwhile was a fresh as a daisy and produced some startlingly good trumpet playing on the Harry James favourite ‘Concerto for Trumpet’ and the old Kenny Baker classic ‘Virtuosity’ that stunned the audience with its projection, authentic style (all slightly late night jazz club grubby) and technique. There are not many cornet players around who can sound as good (or as at ease) on a trumpet as this, and it was exhibition stuff of the highest order.

Just in case they had forget though that he was a cornet player of the highest class, he also popped in a cracking little account of the old favourite, ‘Rule Britannia’ (although we don’t think it would have gone down too well in a couple of months time if the All Blacks lose the First Test here) and a beautiful rendition of the Maori tune, ‘Hine E Hine’ which was specially arranged for him for this short concert tour by the conductor of the Addington Band, Barry Brinson. It was a super touch.

The New Zealander’s certainly got their money’s worth from him though, and he even had the lip to perform the duet from Rossini’s ‘Two Cats’ with the band solo trombone player (Philip Spriggs), and so with his contribution finally over and done with he had time to sell plenty of his new CD “Blaze” and prepare himself for a well earned break in Queenstown. He deserved it.

Addington Brass themselves opened the concert under the fine direction of Barry Brinson, who also happens to be one heck of a jazz pianist, with a neat account of ‘Shield of Liberty’ and a safe rendition of Goff Richards arrangement of ‘Shepherd’s Song’. The ‘Danse Macabre’ wasn’t a success though – a bit macabre for the wrong reasons, but they accompanied Richard Marsahll well enough and produced a neat bit of Duke Ellington to round off the first half with his classic old ‘Caravan’ in a very good arrangement from the MD.

That just left Woolston (the local band, and something of an institution in these parts), who provided just the two items in the form of the hymn tune ‘I know thou art Mine’ and a performance of ‘Paganini Variations’. The New Zealand Championships is made up of three parts: Hymn tune, Set Work and Own Choice, so it was an opportunity for the band to give their alleged selections an airing.

And a good airing they were too with some notable solo playing from all the players around the stand providing a full rounded band sound linked to some excellent direction from the man in the middle, David Gallaher. With a week to go, they too will head for fog bound Wellington (the airport of which has been closed for three days now) confident of regaining their National title for the first time sine 2002.

The concert was rounded off with the traditional speech making (some things never change wherever you are in the world) and a rip through ‘Procession to the Minster’ before the players headed for the pub by the Jade Stadium Rugby Ground called “Robbies” (any Lions supporters, please note, as it is a great watering hole) and Richard Marshall headed for a short holiday.

Iwan Fox.