United States Marine Band

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Richardson Records, apparently the single-handed creation of one Charles A. Richardson, has specialized in issuing recordings by the musical ensembles of the various U.S. armed forces. It's a worthy service, for the level of musicianship in these ensembles is high. The musicians are mostly conservatory-trained players who have joined the armed forces, not service members with varying levels of training who have decided to aggregate themselves into ensembles. The collection of familiar marches by Sousa and others on disc one of this two-disc collection is performed by the United States Marine Band with more zip than one would find from most equivalent music school bands. The Richardson releases, for better or worse, also have a pretty homemade quality, even down to a printing error corrected in pen ink on the copy examined here. The notes by Richardson himself are informative as to the functions of military music but are missing crucial information -- in this case, the identity of the Symphony Arts Orchestra that performs the Richard Rodgers (actually more Robert Russell Bennett) score to Victory at Sea that takes up most of the second disc. Was this ensemble part of the Marines? If so, there is little evidence of its existence out there, and Richardson does not enlighten the reader at all. This performance of excerpts from the score is useful in that it covers several segments that do not appear on the familiar RCA Symphony recording of the work, and it's quite a rousing reading. The sound is subpar, and one suspects that the performance originated well before the 1995 date given. As with the other Richardson discs, fans of military memorabilia will find value in this release even if its presentation could have been improved.

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