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“BBBC: Battle Creek Transit Authority: Live in Concert”
Jim Peterik (arr. Jim Gray): Vehicle [1]
English Folk Song (arr. Philip Harper): The Water of Tyne [2]
Luigi Denza (arr. Michael Garasi): Funiculi – Funicula Rhapsody
Irving Burgie (arr. Dennis Wilson and Jim Gray): Jamaica Farewell [3]
John Barnes Chance (arr. David Henderson): Incantation and Dance [4]
Chuck Mangione (arr. Jim Gray): Children of Sanchez [5]
Bill Block and George Petit: Crescent Moon [6]
James Pankow (arr. Chris Sharp): Make Me Smile [7] – Saturday in the Park [8]
Peter Cetera (arr. Chris Sharp): If you Leave me Now [9]
Peter Cetera and David Foster (arr. Chris Sharp): Hard to Say I’m Sorry – Get Away [10]
Robert Lamm (arr. Jim Gray): Beginnings [11]
Robert Lamm (arr. Chris Sharp): 25 or 6 to 4 [12]

Chris Jaudes [2] (Cornet), Chris Jaudes [10], John Challoner [3], Jens Lindemann [11], Tony Kadleck [10, 12], Rex Richardson [5], Rich Kelley [11] (Trumpets), Rex Richardson [5, 10] Rich Kelley [6] (Flugelhorns), Tony Baker [3, 11], Marshall Gilkes [5] (Trombones), Marty Erickson [6] (E-Flat Tuba), Steve Mead [2] (Euphonium), Gail Robertson [10] (Baritone), Ed Fedewa [11], Al Ayoub [1, 5, 7, 11, 12] (Bass Guitars), Ron Newman [10] (Keyboards), Terry Lower [6] (Piano), John H. Beck [6], David Hardman [12] (Drums), Demondrae Thurman [1, 10, 11], Rich Kelley [6], Daniel Alan [8, 9, 10, 11, 12] (Vocals), Brass Band of Battle Creek, Michael J. Garasi (Conductor)
Recording: W.K. Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek, Michigan (May 21, 2016, June 6, 2015, December 5, 2015) – 68’50
MSR Classics MS 1634 – Booklet in English

Those listeners looking for a summer of brassy ambition will want to journey to this Live in Concert recording by the Brass Band of Battle Creek (BBBC) with its heavily-layered collection of new musical arrangements originating from the famed rock group, “Chicago.” The sassy sounds of jazzy brass is an iconic American branding whose proliferation has been preserved and advanced through legendary artists such as Chuck Mangione and Doc Severinsen. For over 27 years the BBBC has not only performed with virtuosic strength, but it has also maintained a higher ambition by helping to further educate local area school bands wherever they are performing.

Songs about beauty, love, sorrow, separation and inspiration are entwined throughout the album along with an updated stamp of turn-of-the century contemporariness. Michael J. Garasi is a great start, leading infectious ensembles and allowing several instruments to dwell in the limelight for a moment or two. His own arrangement of Luigi Denza’s famed 1880 Neopolitan song broadens the jocular tune into a series of segmented vignettes which magnifies the piece into a band of festivity.

It’s no wonder the BBBC’s Founding Directors, Bill and Jim Gray, open the CD with Jim Peterik’s Vehicle, for it establishes the grounding of a punchy journey. Steve Mead’s euphonium chases quickly behind to paint a somber and moody recollection of the Cumbrian River Tyne, the starkest contrast of emotional diction mapped out on this recording.

Back to more of an edge, Jim Gray gives an energetic vibe to Chuck Mangione’s Children of Sanchez which allows Al Ayoub’s string smoothness to ironically blend together with the staccato trombone fusillade by Marshall Gilkes and raucous trumpet behavior, compliments of Rex Richardson. In contrast, Crescent Moon makes an indelible mark when spotted by Terry Lower on keys and Marty Erickson on tuba, This makes for a suave, nostalgic rendition especially when set to Rich Kelley on vocals.

Two of “Chicago’s” perennial favorites are woven together in a splendidly crafted quasi-medley, led by Daniel Alan in voice. In this rendition, Saturday in the Park is grossly shortened (quite the disappointment) with the Lamm/Cetera double vocals melding into one. Though Mr. Alan’s register is a tad higher and thinner, the tone is erudite, truthful and non-ambivalent…he owns the notes with rarified embrace.

Beginnings also captures the distinctive sounds culled from “The Chicago Transit Authority”, “Chicago’s” previous moniker, and it’s a true re-awakening. Once again, Daniel Alan brings a refurbished lyrical freshness to the score that’s irresistibly effervescent.

Live in Concert gives occasion to glance back to a more happy and meaningful past. What better way to celebrate this music than to turn to the snappy rhythms of the Brass Band of Battle Creek. Recommended.

Brass Band of Battle Creek Website

Christie Grimstad




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