At a sensational concert on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, the London Brass was called back for two encores and still left its audience begging for more. The talented musicians showed themselves capable of producing winning results in any and all musical styles, providing a musical feast that covered the historical spectrum from John Dowland and Giovanni Gabrieli to Duke Ellington and Django Bates.
The personnel list for London Brass reads like a Who's Who among British brass players and includes principal musicians from several of England's finest orchestras. Four trumpets, four trombones, horn and tuba fill out the ensemble, with occasional contributions from piccolo, trumpet, flugelhorn and baritone horn. From the moment that lips first touched mouthpieces, producing a smooth and perfectly blended wall of sound, it was evident that the evening would be memorable.The first half of the concert was devoted to music of the Renaissance and Baroque eras and led off with a charming set of Airs and Dances by John Dowland, followed by a stunning group of antiphonal canzonas by Gabrieli and Ban-chieri.
A costume change to casual attire with colorful vests signaled a change of pace for the second half, which was as full of humor and musical in-jokes as it was full of amazing playing. London-based jazz composer Django Bates' Sublime Limeys Suite was original, intricate, frenetic and wildly humorous. The third movement, Sordid (a play on the word "sordino" - Italian for "muted"), had the players scrambling wildly for one mute after another (something all brass players will understand) and eventually playing on the mutes themselves.
Arrangements of Duke Ellington tunes were tasty indeed, and as for the half-insane set of variations on the theme from Haydn's Surprise Symphony - well, you had to be there. Those who were are not likely to forget this memorable evening.