Soundtrack of the American Soldier *****
LAURA KARPMAN/MAX STEINER/MICHAEL GIACCHINO/GEORGE M. COHAN/JOSHUA MOSHIER/JOSEPH DEBEASI/JOHN WILLIAMS/JEFF BEAL/JERRY GOLDSMITH/ELMER BERNSTEIN/IRVING BERLIN/MARK ISHAM
Navona Records NV 6297
13 tracks – 69:13
Also available as a digital download.
The US Army Field Band headed to Skywalker Sound in 2018 to record a host of pieces that focused on celebrating the stories of those men and women who enter the line of duty. Their director Col. Jim R. Keene has selected a variety of music from a host of media composers (film, television, musical theater, video games) for this compelling collection of music.
There are several original works commissioned for the ensemble like the opening “Brass Ceiling” celebrating General Ann Dunwoody by Laura Karpman (Lovecraft Country). “A Portrait of Honor” is a new work by television composer Joshua Moshier (Baskets). Some significant arrangements for wind ensemble are also part of the program. Chief among them are the new Paul Lavender arrangements of John Williams march from 1941 and “The Jedi Steps and Finale” from The Force Awakens (having played both these in concert, it is quite easy to say these performances are spot on). Tim Simonec provides two unique suites. The first is for Giacchino’s 1999 video game score for Medal of Honor (which Simonec also conducted in the original recording sessions). The other is an arrangement that blends the themes from Patton and The Great Escape. Fun new arrangements by the army’s own Master Sgt. Adrian Hernandez of Steiner’s “Overture” to Sergeant York. Of course, there are some folk tune quotes in that score, themselves often grist for band suites. The “American Sniper Suite” features music from the Eastwood film composed by Joseph Debeasi which will be a nice surprise for listeners as well. Composer Jeff Beal also adapted an excellent 8-minute suite of music from the series The Long Road Home. Some may not be aware that Mark Isham wrote the music used for recruiting advertisements from 2006-1018. His “Army Strong” is performed here in an arrangement by Brad Dechter. Throw in some lighter classic favorites like “Over There”, “The Star Spangled Banner” (an arrangement by Hernandez); and Paul Lavender transcription of “God Bless America” from the original Boston Pops arrangement by Glenn Osser.
The performances are clean and crisp and the sound captures the ensemble well. It should because this was recorded meticulously at the Skywalker Sound Studio in Marin County. As if a well-recorded performance was not enough, the release also includes a Blu-Ray recording that has been missed in immersive Dolby Atmos 5.1 Stereo sound. While purists may find band arrangements of film music a bit off the beaten track, those who have grown up playing in such ensembles will certainly want to grab this release. Those who also want to explore some of these great musical works will also appreciate the newer works presented in this excellent release.