Canadian Brass

Amazing Brass

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The veterans of the Canadian Brass here show why the group continues to attract big audiences despite a good deal of competition they themselves have inspired. By now their seamless blend, made possible by the way each individual instrumentalist polishes his attack down to a seductive gentleness, is familiar to almost everyone who listens to over-the-air or Internet classical radio. The Canadian Brass sound has survived numerous changes in personnel and is by now widely imitated. Not so easy to imitate, and probably more significant in the end, is the group's innovative programming. Ensembles of various kinds mix classical and jazz materials in concert and on recordings. But few indeed are able to draw on a large repertoire and apply the musical sensitivity necessary to make the listener forget that anything unusual is being done. Although the rudimentary liner notes refer to "Music on the Classical Side" and "Music on the Jazz Side," the program is not divided into two parts but intertwines the two "sides" in unexpected ways. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, would not seem a good fit for a segue into My Melancholy Baby, but hear the end of track 5 and the beginning of track 6 for a taste of why the Canadian Brass has been so successful. The pairing of Amazing Grace and the Pachelbel Canon takes materials that could have been overfamiliar and makes of them a lovely and spiritual interlude. How do they do it? Somehow the anchoring of the group's sound in the brass music of the early Baroque, a big chunk of which opens the program, provides a perspective that arches over the variety of music that appears later in the program -- that's part of it, along with great subtlety in the various arrangements group members have done over the years. Apparently issued by the group itself, this release suffers from unattractive graphic design. The talents of the musicians, however, remain undiminished.

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