United States Marine Band

Not Sousa: Great Marches Not by John Philip Sousa, Vol. 1

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Not Sousa is the clever concept behind this first volume of marches from Altissimo! focusing on military marches that some people might think are John Philip Sousa's due to their familiarity. Here one will find such blazers as Fucik's Entry of the Gladiators, Louis Ganne's Father of Victory, and the National Emblem March of E.E. Bagley -- none of them titles that pop into one's non-expert head right away when thinking of great marches, but immediately recognizable once the band strikes up the tune. In addition, the band here is a very good one: the United States Marine Band, an organization once led by Sousa himself.

This collection of 16 marches is probably the best engineered album that Altissimo! has produced, and while there is some slight variance to the sound, it is not nearly as distracting as has been the case in some earlier Altissimo! releases. The performances overall are very good, although some are better than others -- Henry Fillmore's breakneck Rolling Thunder is fabulously well played, whereas Johann Strauss I's familiar Radetzky March falls somewhat flat owing to the plodding tempo employed. Not all of these marches are necessarily immediate, and the disc is padded out by a couple of delightful obscurities, such as Pierre Leemans' jaunty Belgian Paratroopers. For listeners who would like to locate familiar marches that have eluded them in the past as the name "Sousa" is not attached to them, overall Not Sousa will prove a highly enjoyable collection that could well help bridge the gap.

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