Altissimo's Forward March! is a collection of marches played by the U.S. Army Band under the direction of its leader and commander, Colonel Gary F. Lamb. Known as "Pershing's Own," the U.S. Army Band was instituted in 1922 by General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, making it a relative youngster in comparison to the U.S. Marine Band. Nonetheless, the U.S. Army Band fulfills some significant duties within the United States, leading every Presidential Inaugural Parade since 1925 and recently performing at the state funeral of President Ronald Reagan.
The generous selection of 17 pieces is well chosen and generally well sequenced, except for an instance when two similar sounding marches in the same key appear in succession. Altissimo does not identify the location of the recording, which is rather dry as though recorded in a classroom and somewhat lacking in low, mid-range. The music is played quite well, particularly Samuel Barber's concert march Commando March, although Colonel Lamb has a tendency to pull slightly on tempi in sections where the pace is supposed to be steady. For marching band music buffs, there are a couple of rarities included, such as T.B. Boyer's Joyce's 71st N.Y. Regiment March and The Purple Carnival by Harry L. Alford. Otherwise, the program is standard without being routine. Among the major ensembles from within the American military, the U.S. Army Band has not recorded extensively, so Forward March! is a welcome account of this band's sound and style.