While I’ve not yet had quite the banding career longevity of some of the other members of London City Brass, I do still remember a time when if you wanted to listen to a piece of music you had to go to a shop that sold CDs (like HMV, Zavvi, or Woolworths), find it, and buy it.
For the budding brass band enthusiast this posed a bit of a problem. For one thing, brass band CDs were then (and, indeed, continue to be) a specialist niche in the wider world of musical entertainment, meaning choice tended to be limited. For another, the quality of what was available could be best described as ‘variable’. Yes, plenty of good stuff was around if you knew where to look, but so were endless march and hymn-tune medleys played with uniform billy-goat vibrato to a backing of 78RPM hiss and pop.
Nowadays, the advent of music streaming has changed all of this for the better. Listeners seeking to get an idea of the sound of the ‘traditional’ brass band can easily browse through a wide range of recordings ancient and modern. If anything the problem is one of too much music rather than too little. After all, if you bash ‘brass band’ too casually into the search box, you now risk ending up with New Orleans jazz.
If only there was some kind of introductory playlist available. Well, now there is - a 13-hour odyssey through the world of brass band entertainment spanning decades, genres and continents (one of the best things about Spotify, incidentally, being the ready availability of excellent recordings made by brass bands outside of the UK).
Those who already like brass bands should hopefully find things to enjoy here (be it film music, big band, marches, test pieces, classical transcriptions or the odd piece of Grade-A cheese), and will I’m sure have suggestions for that favourite item which has been unfairly overlooked. For people who are new to the genre, meanwhile: welcome - there is plenty more where this lot came from.