Review – Brett Baker Concert

Sunday November 14th at St Andrews on the Terrace

The public of Wellington, New   Zealand, identified in an international publication as the World’s “coolest” small city, were recently treated to an extraordinarily fine concert of brass music.

Unfortunately the size of the audience did not match the quality of the playing by the guest, trombonist supreme Brett Baker the principal trombone in Black Dyke Band a very famous English Band, and the thirty strong Trust Porirua City Brass.

The concert was presented in the St   Andrews Church on The Terrace. The Church itself is a pleasure to be in, with its acoustic quality very suitable for a concert of this type, doing no harm to either soloist or full band.

Those brass devotees who attended were enthusiastic about the programme presented to them and the outstanding quality of playing. It was a concert that would have made a significant number of conversions had the public responded in greater numbers!

Brett Baker is undoubtedly a trombonist of exceptional class. He is the epitome of high quality English brass playing and musicianship. New   Zealand has itself produced a number of top quality trombone players back to Jack Clague and Alan Briesman to today’s David Bremner. There is then some knowledge to assess the quality of a player such as Brett. Without doubt this man has it all, from sound to technique, from style to presentation. Brett is a musician in every sense.

The concert itself presented an eclectic range of music from the traditional march Ravenswood written by the doyen of march composers William Rimmer, Resurgum an original brass composition by the famous Eric Ball, through to a wonderful range of numbers arranged for trombone and band such as Mr Bojangles, Bacharach’s Close to You, a delightful arrangement of Atlantic Zephyrs arranged by Keith Wilkinson, Smile by Charlie Chaplin, and Bess, You Is My Woman Now by Gershwin and arranged by Robin Dewhurst.

This breadth of musical arrangements presented Brett with the opportunity to demonstrate his full range of musical and virtuoso skills. The Band obviously enjoyed the opportunity to play with a soloist and musician of Brett’s calibre and provided sympathetic accompaniment under the baton of Kerry Garrett.

It is extraordinary that New   Zealand can attract a brass musician of such undoubted quality to come here. This clearly reflects the reputation that New Zealand has in the world-wide brass band movement. On his next visit, and I am sure there will be one, the opportunity should be taken to have Brett play with our National Youth Band. Young players of the quality to be found in our National Youth Band can only benefit from listening to and playing with a world renowned player and high quality musician such as Brett.

This review cannot conclude without reference to the playing by the Trust Porirua City Brass of the Eric Ball composition Resurgum, truly a brass band musical masterpiece. By all standards this is a real test for any brass band with many exposed sections and requiring technical skill throughout the whole band. The band met the music’s demands very well.

The programme concluded with the number March of the Cobblers by Bob Barratt and Edrich Siebert. The Band and the audience were delighted when Brett joined the trombone section and brought to an end an extraordinary and accomplished concert.

 

Mel Smith CNZM 24 November 2010

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