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"Steve Thomason's wacky cartoons of manic monkeys capture the rambunctious spirit of this disc and of the fine Wind Orchestra of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. That spirit is especially heard in James Curnow's Fanfare for Spartacus and Steven Bryant's Monkey. Dale Wilson's What Was That Song I Heard You Singing? shows that the band has an affinity for jazz. While much of the work is scored for jazz trio, the band plays backgrounds and interludes, sometimes joining in surreptitiously before taking over. The 24-minute work begins wistfully, and then develops a real head of steam with some high-energy improvisation by the trio, led by the excellent UNLV faculty pianist Stefan Karlsson. Faculty bassist Tom Warrington takes a long and very fine solo turn. Eliot Zugmund is the capable drummer. Also heard in a good solo is student tenor saxophonist Rusty Blevins. I enjoyed this interesting, well-crafted, and very attractive piece.


The UNLV band makes impressive sounds in Michael Davis s fine arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith's evocative music from the movie The Wind and The Lion. After a stirring opening section, sensitive lines are nicely delivered by woodwind soloists. A series of energetic section passages ensue, first by clarinets, then by trumpets. And so it goes through a 17-minute collage that reminds me strongly of Johan deMeij s epic Symphony 1, Lord of the Rings. I hope this terrific arrangement is readily available. Standard band literature includes Julius Fucik's Thunder and Blazes and Ralph Vaughan Williams s Flourish for Glorious John. Claude T. Smith based his Variations on a Hymn by Louis Bourgeois on the Doxology, a nicely restrained example of a band genre favored by such composers as David Holsinger and the late Fischer Tull.


And then there is Alfred Reed's Praise Jerusalem, not heard here since the Trenton State University band did it some years ago (May/June 1996: 245). I wonder why it is not played more often. Band directors who are thinking about programming La Fiesta Mexicana for the umpteenth time should consider this spectacular work instead. The UNLV musicians give it a powerful reading. The program ends with the UNLV Alma Mater, composed in 1997 by Eric Whitacre, orchestrated by Anthony LaBounty, with text by Robyn Lemon and band director Thomas Leslie. The engineers strove for balance here, so the melody isn't always clearly audible, and the words--as sun by the UNLV Chamber Chorale--cannot be understood. But the pretty song makes the desired effect."  - American Record Guide September/October 2001

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