Black History Month presentation with the Navy Band Brass Quartet

In 2011 and 2012, the Navy Band Brass Quartet did a couple of presentations focusing on the diversity in the U.S. Navy and in the Navy Band program. We presented a program about our Hispanic heritage at a local school. This was the music we prepared:

  • Ritchie Valens, La Bamba
  • Robert Russell Bennett, Farragut
  • Joseíto Fernández, Guantanamera
  • Antonio Romero Monge, Macarena
  • Cayetano Alberto Silva, San Lorenzo March
  • Jaime Teixidor, Amparito roca

We had teachers and students all dancing the Macarena at the end of this program–it was so fun to get that reaction, because brass quartets don’t usually get people dancing.

On February 17, 2012, we collaborated with Cory Parker to present a Black History Month program. This was a big challenge for all of us, but it was a meaningful project.

Our program was the following:

  • Alton Adams, Spirit of the USN and The Governor’s Own
  • William Grant Still, The Negro Speaks of Rivers
  • Wade in the Water
  • Clark Terry, One Foot in the Gutter
  • John Coltrane, Impressions

Here’s a video presentation the U.S. Navy Band did summarize this program.

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Navy Band Brass Quartet recording of “Stomping Sailors”

In many ways, the U.S. Navy Band saved and nurtured me during a vulnerable time of my life while trying to raise a family. However, while in the Navy Band, it was the Brass Quartet thatkept me sane. For that, I am truly grateful.

One of the many hidden benefits of playing the quartet was the lack of published arrangements for the brass quartet that was available to us. For that reason, we started arranging and composing a lot of our own repertoire, and we carved out a niche in the Navy Band as a small group that could do any kind of ceremony or concert. The member most responsible for building up our books was John Schroeder. Our normal book that we used on gigs was 90% comprised of his arrangements. I took my cue from John and learned to arrange also for the group, but my efforts were small by comparison. John also composed several original pieces for us. They possessed a unique style and were very clear in their form. Here is an example of one of his marvelous compositions for the brass quartet—“The Stomping Sailors March,” recorded in 2011. Note–there is a curious black and white segment of the film that seems like a mistake. However, the music continues correctly.

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