DCW On-Line: Jackson NJ Review

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Carolina Crown wins Central Jersey “Music in Motion”

July 6, 2009 – Jackson, NJ . . . After days of rain in the Northeast, drum corps finally caught a break when the second of four YEA shows unfolded on a beautiful night in Jackson Township. I had spent a couple of days with Crossmen in Bristol, RI, and Wakefield, MA, prior to coming to the show in Jackson.

This is a nice, new school that is only three or four years old. They have large stands for a new high school, yet I can’t figure out why many schools that are all-about FOOTBALL don’t build larger stands for their school. I did have a great vantage point, however, on the track during the show, so I missed much of the view from higher up.

YEA warned on their Web site that they were nearly sold out prior show day and they were not kidding. I was amused by the people who bought standing-room-only tickets for 10 bucks, then complained that they were truly standing room only. Any way you look at it, those who came to the show got a great experience and were enthusiastic, backing their favorite corps during the evening!

Carolina Crown’s 2009 show is called “The Grass is Always Greener.” There are many people who are thinking that Crown is the next successor to the crown at DCI. That may well be true with what we saw of the show this evening, but Cadets are closing in and there are still a few corps in the Midwest and out West that are looking forward to their first meetings with Crown.

The show is BIG! Big sound, lots of movement and very nice guard work. Carolina Crown joins a number of corps that feature a pre-show to the actual show. I think it adds a lot and fills the holes while the corps and guard set up.

Since Carolina Crown has been known the last few years for their powerful horn lines, they did not disappoint! What a great horn impact most of their attacks make on the music and on the crowd. Watch the tubas fly across the field when you get to see them. My favorite pieces were “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Sansemaya.”

With such a wealth of music, there are going to be many highlights from this show to remember. Musically, this show is composed of “The Promise of Living” from “The Tender Land,” “Church Windows,” “Puck,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” “Hybrid,” “Salum,” “Sansemaya” and “The Promise of Living.”

The Holy Name Cadets’ 2009 Show is called “West Side Story: Celebration and Conflict.” When I first saw the show in Bristol, I was certainly impressed by the music, which has always been a favorite along with the movie. A drum corps photographer explained that the Troopers are also doing a similar show with the love story between a 7th Calvary member and an Indian maiden. I found it amusing how they can fit the Sharks and the Jets into their show.

As for the Holy Name Cadets, they have a super arrangement which will change dramatically day by day until finals. George Hopkins told me they were making major changes to “Cool” that very day. Frankly, the show is very cool throughout already.

Being a fan of “West Side Story,” I really love this show. It is traditional Cadets all the way, from the staging of the drum line to the ensemble work. So much is going on at all times it is really hard for the average fan to keep track of it all in their first viewing. My favorite effect is that they tend to feature the drum line, then hide them in the back for a while, just to come roaring back to center stage again and again.

Execution is the key and they still have lots of work to clean it to the quality you can expect from Cadets. By the end of the show I was just eating up the musical arrangements and found myself humming the tunes on the hour drive home. I was close enough to the pit to really enjoy the synthesizer effects which seemed to often be a reinforcement of the bass line. The drum line is very dynamic and the horns very clean.

The Boston Crusaders 2009 show is called “The Core of Temptation.” The sitar synthesizer at the start of the show was very entertaining and the girl’s costumes were some of the best of the night. These girl guard members have some real ABS, so if there was a way to sell that as a product on TV, they could make a fortune from what I saw.

This was the second WOW of the evening. The corps is so very strong and I can see them definitely moving up the ladder as they continue to clean. One of the more exciting parts features the throwing of their brass instruments up in the air. I have a friend who repairs instruments at the shows who is probably looking forward to many visits with those horns that need to me straightened throughout the season.

Boston Crusaders, Boston, MA
Photo by Ron Walloch
Courtesy of Drum Corps World

The brass line was very clean and the show very exciting. Drum breaks were very noticeable and fit right into the music book. This is one of their best shows in years! The musical book features “Bacchanale” from “Samson and Delilah,” “Salome,” “Belkis” from “Queen of Sheba,” “Dance of Maenads,” “Myst” and “Oceana".

It is great to see the Crossmen back here on the East Coast. They still have a lot of fans here as well as many members. The first thing you will notice is the black capes which they use vampire- style to build on the “Forbidden” theme concept. There are lots of interesting synthesizer parts throughout that add an air of intrigue (i.e. spooky) in the early part of the show.

No guard uniforms as of yet, but I hear they are coming to Chesapeake, VA, the following day. I understand that they are being hand painted and some are skirts, dresses or pants. There definitely needs to be more color in the uniform since for now the guard in all black tends to blend very much to the musicians. Their show features musical treats like “Dance of Vengeance” from “Medea” by Samuel Barber and “My Immortal” from Evanecence.

They have a strong drum line, but it needs to be featured more. The guard work is great and horns could use some more emotional impact points.

They are running just about where they were last year at this time and they really need to kick it in for the competitors that they will see soon. Rain-out shows are not their friend this year since they could really use the judging input.

Jersey Surf’s show is called “The Mozart Effect.” Their music includes “Overture from The Marriage of Figaro,” “Inspirations” from “Pa-Pa-Papageno,” “The Magic Flute” and “Symphony #50 in G Minor.” The corps placed fifth behind Crossmen. Not bad for their first year as a World Class Corps.

Their first year out includes two short tours, mostly on the East Coast, and into the Midwest. The corps is much stronger than I have ever seen them and near capacity. A very active and talented guard and drum line, the horn line could use some more impact points to sell the crowd and some louder passages would be welcome, especially after listening to Teal Sound just before them.

There is a possibility that they could well catch up to the Crossmen. Surf had several numbers that caught the crowd’s ear with the Latin-style piece being the most popular. It is interesting to note that they also use electronics in a big way, including sampling throughout the show. This is going to be a great year for the Jersey Surf.

Teal Sound was the first of two groups in Open Class this evening. Standing with several photographer friends (Chris Maher and David Rice), we had our first WOW moment of the evening as we were blown away by the BIG sound that the corps was pushing into the stands. Okay . . . they had three guitars and a drum set mounted on a trailer as part of their show. Well, get over it, because they were used just at the right time and went well with the rock and roll show that they were playing. In fact- I almost wished that they were featured more.

The bass guitar was playing noticeably throughout the show, while the others added an occasional solo to let people know that they were not just props. And besides, as The Who demonstrated long ago, guitars ARE percussion instruments, especially when they slam them over the tops of their amps during the show! This show is called “The Velvet Rope” and they actually have a velvet rope line, like at a movie theater, at the end of the show spread across the field.

Musical selections are from Janet Jackson, Cold Play, the Blue Man Group, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. I hope you get a chance to see them because they are coming on very strong.

The Raiders feature five big, mobile backdrops which at this point have yet to be painted with any type of theme. They have an audio track with a speaker talking about a person’s trip to earlier-day America between segments. “Swineherds Dance” appeared to be the finest of the numbers as far as crowd reaction is concerned. The corps seems stronger than last year.

Listening to several members speak before they went on, the corps is really pumped for the show. The peasant-style uniforms on the guard are very attractive and music throughout was very entertaining.

Talking with their director, Tommy Maiello, I understand they have had winter site cancellations which might have put them a little behind schedule. Their show is called “Isle of Hope” and their music is “American Elegy,” “Hungarian Peasant Songs,” “Romanian Dance for Orchestra,” “Swineherds Dance,” “Gan Ainm” and “The Barber of Seville.”

You may discuss this review on the DCP Forums. We’d love to hear your feedback.

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Posted by on Saturday, July 25th, 2009. Filed under DCW On-Line.