The Army Brass Quintet, a division of “Pershing’s Own”, is comprised of some of the best brass musicians in the Army. While the group has gone through numerous personnel changes since it began in 1972, the quality of their playing has only improved. An interesting trend in personnel is that the trombone players for the group (currently the great Matt Niess, formerly Harry Watters) have often come out of the Army Blues (“Pershing’s Own’s” Jazz Band), rather than the Concert Band. I would also like to make note of two of the most recent former trumpet players, Woody English (who played in the quintet for more than 20 years) and Denny Edelbrock (a member of the quintet for at least 30 years and executive director of the National Trumpet Competition!). Both are world-class players who have performed in honor of presidents, international dignitaries, and fallen American heroes; please check out their bios. Also, an article about Woody’s retirement.
The first time that I saw the Army Brass Quintet, they played their own soundtrack to an old black and white movie. This was really stunning. The horn player at the time had composed a soundtrack, which seemed very stylistically appropriate for the time period of the movie. Also, the musicians switched back and forth from their instruments to garden hoses. This created a great contrast between the movie and music, and was quite entertaining.
The quintet’s webpage has some good information about the group and you can listen to some pristine recordings from their album Encore! Below, check out some videos. The first features Harry Watters as a soloist and Denny and Woody on trumpets. The second one isn’t really seasonally appropriate (Christmas in April), but I like it!