The Music Of Our Lives
South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble – 06/16/12
Broward Center For The Performing Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Playing to a sold-out house, the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble (SFPWE – www.PrideWindEnsemble.org) took stage center, right and left at the Broward Center For The Performing Arts’ Amaturo Theater this past Saturday night. A sixty piece assemblage of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, saxes, trumpets, french horns, trombones and percussion, the brilliant arrangements and cohesive musicianship made artistic director and conductor Dan Bassett’s job seem flawless.
With nineteen pieces in two acts, the evening opened to Samuel Hazo’s “Ride,” a world-wind drive featuring all the individual sections of SFPWE, from the rolling clarinets to the wailing horns. This was followed by David Shaffer’s rollicking “Slidin Stiehl” with the trombone section leading a number that Buffalo Bill could have easily performed to under any big top. Next, section soloist Gregory Campbell played an elegantly punctuated trombone lead with deep bottom accents on “Blue Bells of Scotland.” While each number was heartfelt and appealing, other particularly memorable highlights of the first act included Gustav Holst’s “The Dargason,” with the clarinet section whirling and winding around a solo sax bass line; Leroy Anderson’s “Clarinet Candy” which again featured the ensemble’s wonderfully expressive and perfectly timed clarinet section; an incredible rendition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” where an Uzi couldn’t have shot out notes faster or clearer than Joseph Saenz’s piccolo; and a very bouncy and brassy rendition of John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary” by SFPWE’s Pride Jazz sub-Ensemble as a pre-intermission finale.
While act one was the more traditional part of the program, act two was characterized by the avant-garde and eclectic. Opening with an Elton John medley which included “Crocodile Rock,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Norma Jean,” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” featured singer Tim Gibbs had the audience clapping along to his bouncy stage presence and snappy vocals. Next, xylophone highlights helped the saxophone section guzzle down Billy Joel’s “Root Beer Rag,” and later on the low woodwind section proved that even Lady Gaga’s chic trashophonia can be music worthy, and Bob Pagano sang a wonderfully smokey version of “Feeling Good” from the 1965 musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.” But the unmistakable show stoppers of the night went to the flute section. Performing together on Wil Offermans’ “Dance With Me,” the house swooned to this hip-hop, techno derivative’s samba-salsa undercurrents. This was only to be topped by solo flautist Jessey Andris’ back-of-the-house to stage-front, aisle stomping interpretation of Ian Clarke’s “Tuberama” which would have had both Jean Luc Ponty and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson jumping up and down in their seats.
Closing with a rhapsodic version of Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble performed the classic to the cult (did I mention their raucous, french-horn-laden Frank N. Furter version of Richard O’Brien’s “Time Warp”). Making pride and performance one and the same, it was a very good night to be out and proudly playing, and an incredibly great night to be out and proudly listening as the wind whistled through wood, brass and bass in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Amaturo Theater.