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Music review: Endless Power, New York Staff Band

Music review: Endless Power, New York Staff Band

Music review: Endless Power, New York Staff Band

18 October 2018

Reviewed by Craig Lewis

Endless power – this is an apt name for the latest offering by the New York Staff Band (NYSB). 

Not only is this theme well represented in much of the repertoire, but it equally applies to the impressive sound and technique of the band.

We have long come to expect the NYSB to be at the forefront of innovative programming and repertoire selection, so I was keen to receive this album; the first under the baton of Bandmaster Derek Lance.

I can say without hesitation that this is one of the finest Salvation Army band recordings to be produced in recent memory. It is also the first one produced in the NYSB’s new state-of-the-art bandroom studio, and the clarity and transparency in the sound is second to none.

Recording engineer Phil Bulla has done an excellent job of ensuring that every voicing is heard in balance, including some of the subterranean notes from the BBb bass.

Endless Power is comprised of all new music, so on the first listen there are no pre-conceived notions on how pieces should sound.

Without your ears being constrained by previous interpretations, you are able to sit with an open mind and assess each piece on its own merit.

I suspect that I am not alone in enjoying band pieces that are built around good solid tunes, especially some of the great hymns of the church, and on this album they are present in abundance.

There are three pieces that could be excellent openers in their own right.

Semper Fidelis (Martin Cordner) wins the spot this time, but Living Power (Tom Davoren) and Thy Matchless King (Joel Collier) are equal in their energy and driving rhythms.

I am sure each of them will be put to good use as an opener by many bands in the future. For those who look for the latest “big” piece on a new staff band release, there are three excellent items on offer here. The first, Fearless (Andrew Wainwright), was the winner of the NYSB Composition Contest, and it is clear to see why.

The haunting reference to “those who speak be fearless, those who serve be blameless” throughout underscores the message for the Christian that is contained in the music.

Martin Cordner’s second contribution to the CD, Wake Up The Saint, further demonstrates what he does so well; help the listener visualise the story being told in the music.

The title track, Endless Power, is a substantial work from Marcus Venables. He has created a work that tests the limits of the players, while still allowing the message to come through clear and plain. For me, the genius of Endless Power is actually the pacing.

The program has a wonderful ebb and flow that produces energy and power, contrasted with the gentleness and reflection of some more meditative items.

From a musical standpoint, there are few Salvation Army bands that could cope with all the demands presented in the repertoire on this CD.

From extremes of technique, to musical shapes and phrases, the NYSB handles it all with aplomb.

In short, if you love Salvation Army banding then this production is a must for your personal collection.

Craig Lewis is Territorial Secretary for Music and Gospel Arts, Canada and Bermuda

Endless Power is available from Salvationist Supplies in Sydney (1800 634 209), and Salvation Army Supplies in Melbourne (1800 100 018).


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