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Marquee Mojo

"Klavier is on of the labels that seems to specialize in recordings of wind band and brass recordings.  They do so in often-glorious sound with premiere college ensembles around the country.  The wind orchestra from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has commissioned many works from contemporary composers and their releases tend to mix a bit of the latest in band composition alongside published classics.  Marquee Mojo is actually an interesting blend of music mostly for the stage or screen with a few little extras thrown in for good measure.  Most of the works recorded come from the 20111 season-the exception is the Broughton selection, which was recorded in 2007.


The disc opens with music by Ron Nelson (b. 1929) one of the country’s best contemporary composers for original band music.  Fanfare for the Hour of the Sunrise (1989) was written for the Aspen Music Festival and is a brief, brilliantly orchestrated, work depicting the rise of the sun in the mountains of Colorado.  Another contemporary premiere is How Deep the Father’s Love For Us composed by UNLV’s Associate Director of Bands, Anthony LaBounty.  It is based one 1995 hymn tune by Stuart Townend and was composed to honor the memory od director Leslie’s father.  It is cast in a very Appalachian Spring-likeCopland style at first and then begins to move into a variety of clusters and wind colors that make quite an engaging work.


There are three selections on the disc taken from film.  The first of these is a fine arrangement by Guy Duker of the Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront.  Soloists in this performance are simply fascinating and the fast-paced section towards the beginning of the piece is quite breathtaking.  This recording gives its orchestra counterparts a run for its money in this dramatic and fine performance displaying the sheer virtuosity of individuals and whole sections of the ensemble.  Klavier has captured it with great detail.  A suite from The Wind and The Lion by Jerry Goldsmith makes a welcome addition to great film music, though lesser known to general audiences, on disc.  Michael Davis’ arrangement uses the opening fanfare motif as a glue to pull together the different scenes.  The brass statements, and many of the solo wind appearances of the theme are pretty amazing coming close to matching Goldsmith’s own original soundtrack performance.  Fans of the composer will be interested to hear how Davis’ arranges this music into an invigorating band suite, which also includes some cello work.  The piece allows the percussion section to have some fun as well.  Broughton’s “Overture’ from Silverado is the exemplar Americana piece for this band release.  It features the sort of sound that ensembles of this sort are well familiar with in their literature.  The arrangement by J. Durward Morsch captures the original quite well with a bit more expanded wind palette for extra color and some unique effects from the percussion section as well.


Two selections bring us to the stage in unpublished transcriptions for band.  Arthur Sullivan’s music for The Mikado does feature some of his more memorable tunes and seems to continue to be popular.  This is a premiere of an unpublished pops-like arrangement of the overture and three songs from the operetta by teaching assistant David A. Irish.  It is reminiscent of popular band suite of Sullivan’s Pineapple Poll Suite and features plenty of woodwind runs to make one marvel at the technical ability of these student performers.  Touches of humor in the scoring (bird calls at the end of “Willow, Tit-Willow: and a spoken line in “Here’s a How-De-Do” make the piece a good audience-pleasing work.  Teresa Stewart’s transcription of Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture provides this devilishly difficult orchestra l work for winds.  The UNLV group does a fine job in this essentially contrasting work to everything that surrounds it on this disc with clarinets holding up with matching what are essentially string parts.  And the arrangement does a pretty good job of transcribing 18th century orchestra style to its wind band counterpart.


As a sort of encore perhaps, Karl King’s classic Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March takes us to the circus stage for this perennial band classic in a stunning performance that is unbelievably fast-paced!  Most band students will have played this march, though not at this tempo(!), at some point in their careers as it is standard repertoire.  And at any rate is probably next to Sousa’s work, one of the more familiar pieces still played today in circuses.  Articulation is remarkable at this speed and the couple of tempo pullbacks for dramatic effect are great.


Thomas G. Leslie’s direction leads to crisp and clear textures in the band throughout this recording, which is only occasionally overwhelmed by a slightly ambient sound when percussion are prominent.  This is a really fun disc to listen to with some great new music, a classic repertoire piece, and fabulous new arrangements in stellar performances.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" - Cinemusical, Friday, March 25, 2011


Thomas Leslie makes consistently good recordings with his University of Nevada, Las Vegas Wind Orchestra—this is at least the seventh such to pass my way, and his band sounds terrific.  The program is something of a hodgepodge, but the film and theater music seem to the main theme.


The Suite from Bernstein’s On The Waterfront (arranged by Guy Duker) is the big piece, and Frederic Stone’s excellent horn solo sets the tone for a reading marked by dramatic moments, secure solos, fine intonation, and ensemble precision.  Jerry Goldsmith’s music from the historical drama Wind and The Lion (arranged by Michael Davis, 1975) has power and sweep, intimate moments, and virtuoso lines that are handled very impressively by clarinets, trumpets and saxophones.


The very familiar music from Arthur Sullivan’s Mikado—four movements arranged for band by David Irish—is given a wonderful, technically precise reading.  Bruce Broughton’s Overture from Silverado, arranged by J. Morsch, sounds suitably spectacular.  And while it’s not from a film, the Overture to Mozart’s Magic Flute (arranged for band by Teresa Stewart) sounds great, with beautifully blended chords and lively playing.


In a different vein is Anthony LaBounty’s setting of the hymn How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.  LaBounty, UNLV’s Assistant Director of Bands, composed the work in memory of his colleague Leslie’s father.  The program opens with a Ron Nelson barnburner, Fanfare for the Hour of the Sunrise, and ends with Karl King’s wild Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March.

Recent recordings make the case that the quality of many American university wind ensembles is improving by leaps and bounds.  I am hearing, in recordings like this one, sounds and skills that were once the sole province of only the best conservatories." - American Record Guide, September/October, 2011

"This recent offering from the UNLV Wind Orchestra is an audio joy. The program begins with Ron Nelson's Fanfare for the Hour of Sunrise and concludes with a fun-filled romp through Barnum & Bailey's Favorite (King)…watch for some surprising twists along the way. The recording also features Anthony LaBounty's setting of Stuart Townend's hymn How Deep The Father's Love for Us, Suite from The Mikado (Sullivan/Irish) and UNLV Instructor of Conducting Takayoshi "Tad" Suzuki conducting Overture to The Magic Flute (Mozart/Stewart). Rounding out Marquee Mojo is a trio of film scores transcribed for band: Silverado Overture (Broughton/Morsch), The Wind and the Lion (Goldsmith/Davis) and Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront" (Bernstein/Duker). There is a good reason I'm a fan of the UNLV Wind Orchestra; once you hear this CD you'll become a fan too." - Bandworld Magazine (Ira Novelselsky), October 2011


The program on this well-played and vividly recorded disc is something of a mixed bag.  Described as “an eclectic collection of music from stage, screen and circus ring” the music, presented here as a pure listening experience without visual its visual counterpart, is of uneven quality, the arrangements even more so.  Ron Nelson’s spirited Fanfare for the Hour of the Sunrise, a work that seems to have nothing to do with the disc’s theme, nonetheless makes an effective concert opener.  I enjoyed Guy Duker’s idiomatic wind transcription of Leonard Bernstein’s Suite from On The Waterfront, with its deliciously steamy saxophone solo (the player of which sadly goes uncredited).  Also engaging is Jerry Goldsmith’s The Wind and The Lion, which is arranged for band by Michael Davis.  The disc closes with a rousing virtuoso romp through Karl King’s famous Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March, a circus gallop that immediately conjures up images of the big top.


Sadly, the remainder of the program is less interesting.  I am a huge Gilbert and Sullivan fan, but the arrangement of selections from The Mikado as presented here is rather routine. I would have preferred the wonderful wind arrangement of the suite from Sir Charles Mackerras’s G&S ballet, Pineapple Poll.   And preferable to Bruce Broughton’s Silverado (at least for me) would have been James Curnow’s brilliant band transcription of John Williams’s The Cowboys. Anthony LaBounty’s How Deep The Father’s Love For Us is certainly lovely in its own right, but it borrows heavily from Aaron Copland, at times uncomfortably so; the opening setting of the hymn could have been lifted straight out of the the Shaker variations from Appalachian Spring. As mentioned previously, the playing on this disc is of a very high level and the sonics provided by the great Bruce Leek are first-rate.  If you fine this program appealing, you may proceed with confidence." - Fanfare Magazine (Merlin Patterson), July 2011

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