Wed | Nov 13, 2019

Jamaica Military Band enchanting performance

Published:Wednesday | November 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Conductor, Warrant Officer P. Johnson.
The horn section of the Jamaica Military Band.

It was a relaxing evening listening to great music. From classical to ska was delivered by the Jamaica Military Band to a very appreciative audience, against the lush backdrop of Hope Botanical Gardens on Sunday.

"The band is fantastic," Donald Braham, a regular to the Military Band's Concert in the Gardens, told The Gleaner. He says he was drawn to the event for two reasons - "the music and the way the guys perform". The two-part programme began with the classical, T. Sharp's Fanfare and Soliloquy. The Blue Danube was ideal as the waltz selection, and the men from Camp Road did it their way with J. Nowak's arrangement of Frank Sinatra's I Did It May Way.

Great Thou Art was the 'spiritual' selection, and will be remembered not only for the beautiful dynamic arrangement by Denzel Clarke, a former band master of the Military Band, but the story shared by conductor Warrant Officer Paul Johnson preceding the band playing the piece.

He explained that Clarke was critically ill towards the end of his career, and "When he found out about his illness, he started arranging this (Great Thou Art). Whenever the band rehearsed, he would say that he wanted the piece to be played as one of his final pieces whenever a specific time comes. I want you to listen ... and see if you can understand what he was going through when he was arranging this piece," Johnson cajoled the audience. And on cue the band played the heart-stirring piece.

Part one, however, ended on a light note with Cartoon Symphony that included the theme music for The Flintstones. The light-heartedness of the piece spilt over into the second half of the concert, in the form of pop. But it was the jazz beats that had the audience visibly stomping their feet. The mento music had them not only moving to the beats, but singing along with Sly Mongoose and Brown Skin Gal.

When the band played their penultimate selection, Tribute to Don Drummond, also arranged by Clarke, it was mission accomplished. The concert ended with the playing of the National Anthem.

The only disappointment was that there were no Christmas Carols on the programme. But no doubt the Military Band will amend this on December 16, when they join force with the Jamaica Regiment Band.