Posted 30 March 2011 - 08:55 AM
Here is something I put together for the similar thread in the historical section a few years ago. This research was conducted using the 1972-1999 DCI era. I also used quantity of recorded material as a criteria to make the list-so the more recorded material available benefited that performer.
Greatest Soprano Soloists of DCI
Being a former trumpet player, I may be slightly biased, but I can’t think of anything else I would rather listen to than a skillful soprano soloist backed by a great hornline. Obviously these results are subjective and some certainly are charged by my own personal emotions when I was listening to these performers. All of these gifted individuals marched in junior drum corps during the DCI era (1972-1999).
10) Hunter Moss-Spirit of Atlanta 1984 & 1985. One word comes to mind when you listen to Hunter play-style. His velvet tone and impeccable style set him apart from most players in the activity. His clarity in the upper range rang out over the hornline.
9) Morgan Larson-Madison Scouts 1984, 1985 & 1986. Co-owner of the highest note in DCI history. Morgan’s double F in 1986 will live forever on the DCI albums. I once heard Morgan’s opening solo in 1985’s Rhadsody In Blue after spending several hours with John Georgeson (the Scout’s brass arranger at the time). For the next couple of days Morgan absolutely nailed this solo and I was convinced that this moment would set Morgan in a league of his own in the DCI history books. Unfortunately he had some consistency issues with this solo for the rest of the year and was unable to maintain the amazing phrasing. I also remember him as being able to change the sound of a horn like no other player I have every heard. One time he was playing and I swore he was playing a piccolo trumpet, come to find out he was just changing the sound of the horn with his air-unbelievable.
8) Greg Blum-Colts 1980 & 1981. I consider showmanship a huge part of being a great DCI soloist. In this category Greg stands alone. Known as ‘Harpo’ because of his crazy blonde afro, Greg’s rendition of Summertime from Porgy and Bess demonstrated Greg’s attention-grabbing tone quality and incredible ability to play in every register of the horn with impeccable velvet tone and crisp projection .
7) Al Chez-Garfield Cadets 1981 &1982. If high note chops were the only criteria on this list Al would probably top the list. His double F in 1982 is the highest note played in DCI history (tied in 1986 by Morgan Larson-see #9). For me, it was his solo work in 1981 that best demonstrated the power and excitement of a great performer. He now performs on the Late Show with Letterman and his high note chops are better than ever!
6) Jerry Noonan-North Star 1979 & 1980. The best trait of Jerry was the way he could make his sound pop out of an ensemble. Not pop out in a bad way, but pop out in a good (Buddy Rich Big Band lead trumpet) way. His solo work featured his tremendous upper register chops as well as his superb ability to show off his acrobatic flexibility. His solo work in Ole in both 1979 and 1980 featured every quality of this fine player.
5) Adam Rappa- East Coast Jazz 1995-2000. A huge regret I have in my collection of DCI recordings is that I do not have a recording of East Coast Jazz in the mid 90’s when they featured this amazing soloist. Adam has all the characteristics of a great player: range, tone, and technique. Adam went on to perform with Blast and because he never jumped ship and went to a “big” corps many drum corps fans missed the absolute pleasure of hearing this master.
4) Shaun Owens- Madison Scouts 1982, 1983 & 1984. Certainly the moment that put Shaun squarely on this list was his solo work in 1983’s Strawberry Soup. His command of the upper register is flawless and he plays up to a double E seemingly effortlessly. This former tuba player was not only a masterful high note specialist, but he also demonstrated his technical ability by winning the I&E solo contest in 1983.
3) Chris Metzger-Madison Scouts 1974, 1975, 1976 &1977. Chris is probably the best “all around” player on this list. He is a masterful technical player. His tone production in the lower register as well as the upper register is unparalleled. His high-note chops could rival Maynard Ferguson’s and his legit chops produced solos that sounded like Doc Severson (MacArther’s Park, West Side Story 1977).
2) Jeff Kevitt-Muchachos 1974 & 1975. If smoothness was the main criteria for this list then the top spot would belong to Jeff. Jeff was the master of filling a venue with his big sound. The most amazing thing about Jeff’s playing was that his tone seemed to never change no matter what register he was playing in. When I think of a player filling an entire stadium with huge, gorgeous sound the best example of this is Jeff. His use of air and support are textbook methods of how to be a great horn player. He went on to perform with Chuck Mangione as well as many other top professional musicians (as did many on this list). Jeff’s solo work in Pictures of Spain and MaryAnne are considered by many to be some of the finest solo work in the history of the activity.
1) Jim Brady-Bridgemen 1977 & 1978. I could think of no one better to christen in the advent of the 2 valve soprano bugle than with Jim’s absolute mastery of a brass instrument. His solo work in 1977 was featured in Pagliacci as the corps’ opener. This thrilling moment was only outdone by Jim, himself the next yearl. Jim’s technique is unmatched by any other horn player in the activity. Stylistically he is a god. He places each note in the exact position like it was meant to live there. His solo work in Harlem Nocturne in 1978 stole the show. If you are looking for the best combination of technical ability, tone production, style and showmanship you can end your search with Jim Brady!
Honorable Mention-these performers were also considered in the research to compose this list…Fred Bell-Guardsmen 1978, Madison Scouts 1979, Jon Schipper-Madison Scouts 1993, 1995 & 1996, Dave Wales-Freelancers 1981, 1982 & 1983, Dan Halpern-Blue Devils 1986, 1987 & 1989, Tony Gambaro-Avant Garde 1983, 1984 & 1985, Jay Long-Blue Devils 1982, John Mehan-Blue Devils, Craig Biondi-Bluecoats 1995 & 1996, Barry Hudson-Star of Indiana 1988, Chris Eble-Troopers 1983-1985, Larry Shane-Florida Wave 1988 & 1989, Blue Devils 1990.