Live at the Brickyard
In July 2021, after 17 months apart due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we reconvened and immediately started planning a series of concerts for the fall season. Almost immediately, the Delta variant surged, thwarting our plans to return to live audiences. In response, we planned this livestreamed concert, featuring contemporary brass repertoire as well as original arrangements for quintet written by GCB members Wayne Bennett, Taylor Helms, and Chris Savage. We recorded this performance live at the Brickyard Recording Studio in Alpharetta, GA on November 13, 2021.
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- Gate City Fanfare (Taylor Helms)
- The Maid of Amsterdam (Raymond David Burkhart)
- Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye (Raymond David Burkhart)
- Blow the Man Down (Raymond David Burkhart)
- Souvenir de Porto Rico (Louis Moreau Gottschalk, arr. Taylor Helms)
- St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy, arr. Arthur Frackenpohl)
- Escape (Kevin McKee)
- San Francisco (Kaper/Jurmann, arr. Paul Chauvin)
- Killer Tango (Sonny Kompanek)
- Down by the Riverside (Traditional, arr. Gary Slechta)
- Wayfaring Stranger (Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms)
- House of the Rising Sun (Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms)
- Chicago (Fred Fisher, arr. Paul Nagle)
- Georgia on My Mind (Carmichael/Gorrell, arr. Bennett/Savage)
Gate City Fanfare, Taylor Helms
Soon after joining GCB in January 2019, Taylor brought this exhilarating fanfare that he had previously composed. We loved it, and he liked it as played by the group so much that he renamed it for us! We’ve been beginning our regular concerts with it since and have been planning to include it on our next album, so it naturally was a great fit for the beginning of this performance.
Five Sea Shanties, Raymond David Burkhart
WB: In 2014, I contributed to a Kickstarter campaign by the composer Raymond David Burkhart. The result was this 5-movement composition for brass quintet. At the time, I was coaching a university brass quintet that wasn’t quite ready for the composition, so I filed it away and soon forgot about it, having never even played through the parts. When I put GCB together in late 2017, I rediscovered it when compiling repertoire for a concert series. After one read, we were blown away, and it has cycled through our performance repertoire ever since. We present 3 of the 5 movements in this performance.
The Maid of Amsterdam
Also known as A-Roving, The Maid of Amsterdam is a traditional sea shanty dating to the late 1500s. Versions of the tune have been found in the naval music of Great Britain, Denmark and France. A particularly popular version has been linked to Somerset, England and was included in William A. Pond’s collection, Naval Songs. The tune has been featured in several modern recordings, including one by the Robert Shaw Chorale.
I’ll go no more a-rovin’ with you fair maid
A-roving, A-roving, since roving’s been my ruin
I’ll go no more a-roving with you fair maid
Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye
Surely these words have been sung numerous times as sailors went off to sea. Notice that in Burkhart’s version, he has changed the word “lover” to “love.”
Though far I roam across the sea,
Good-bye my lover, good-bye.
My ev’ry thought of you shall be,
Good-bye my lover, good-bye.
Sung on both sides of the North Atlantic, versions of this song have also been found in the Great Lakes, though those versions tend to be sarcastic songs about inept workers,
Blow the Man Down
Blow the Man Down is an English sea shanty. The lyric “Blow the man down,” often understood as knocking a man down, most likely refers to a common hazard at sea where a strong gale suddenly catches a ship at full sail. Depending on the size and balance of the ship’s cargo, the force of the wind could “blow the man down,” partially capsizing the ship. In violent storms, the ship would be lost, but in calm positions the ship could be saved by cutting the sails and rigging.
A bonnie good mate and a captain too,
Way hey blow the man down,
A bonnie good ship and a bonnie good crew,
Give me some time to blow the man down!
Souvenir de Porto Rico – Louis Moreau Gottschalk, arr. Taylor Helms
Louis Moreau Gottschalk was born in New Orleans to a French Creole mother and English father. A virtuoso pianist, he spent most of his career working outside the United States. On what was scheduled to be a brief stay in Puerto Rico in late 1857, Gottschalk decided to stay for three weeks and wrote several pieces based on the local musical styles. Souvenir de Porto Rico borrows from a Puerto Rican folk song as well as several rhythms that Gottschalk learned while in the Caribbean, including the tresillo (pattern of three unequal notes), the cinquillo (pattern of five unequal notes), and the habanera (a Cuban dance style). Taylor’s arrangement of Gottschalk’s piano work starts and ends softly and features each member of the quintet.
St. Louis Blues – W.C. Handy, arr. Arthur Frackenpohl
W.C. Handy was an African-American songwriter and composer and lived from 1873-1958. He is often referred to as the Father of the Blues. He did not invent the blues, nor was he the first to publish a blues song. But, because of his success in composition and publishing (and the sheer quantity of his output), he was largely responsible for taking the Delta blues from a fairly isolated regional style to a widespread audience and popularizing the art form.
St. Louis Blues, written by Handy in 1914, was inspired by a song he heard while visiting St. Louis in 1892. It had a number of one-line verses and “went on all night.” Most of those one-line verses cannot be reproduced here, but nonetheless, the song was a huge success; during his lifetime, it became known as “the jazzman’s Hamlet.” By the time of his death, Handy was earning more that $25,000 in royalties per year from this one song (equivalent to about $225,000 today).
Escape – Kevin McKee
Escape was written in 2007 by Kevin McKee, a composer who writes primarily for brass soloists and chamber ensembles. This was McKee’s first published composition and was premiered at the conclusion of the his Masters Degree recital. Written in a cinematic style, it depicts a rapid decent down the Castle Crags rock formation in northern California amidst a violent storm.
San Francisco – Bronislaw Kaper & Walter Jurmann, arr. Paul Chauvin
San Francisco is the main theme from the 1936 film of the same name, starring Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald, who sang the song six times throughout the film. The song became an anthem for survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and Judy Garland regularly sang the song in concert performances and on her television show.
San Francisco, open your Golden Gate
You’ll let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one
Saying I’ll wander no more.
Killer Tango – Sonny Kompanek
Sonny Kompanek is a composer mainly known for his work in films. He has composed and/or orchestrated music for over 70 films, including The Big Lebowski, The Finest Hours, and Hail Caesar. He wrote this next piece, Killer Tango, for the Canadian Brass in 1984. It was included on their 2012 album, Canadian Brass Takes Flight. And that’s it – we don’t really know the story of how Kompanek teamed up with Canadian Brass, or how this came to be titled “Killer Tango.” As you’ll hear, it’s fairly relaxed and smooth – not what you might think of when you hear “killer.”
Down by the Riverside – Traditional, arr. Gary Slechta
A traditional African-American spiritual, Down by the Riverside is also known as Ain’t Gonna Study War No More or Gonna Lay Down My Burden, all lyrics in the most popular version of the song. Because of its pacifist imagery, the song has also been used as an anti-war protest song, especially during the Vietnam War. Gary Slechta’s arrangement begins in 3/4 time (whereas the original tune is in 4/4), moves to a highly polyphonic middle section, and ends in an uptempo big band style.
Wayfaring Stranger – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
Likely originating in the early 1800s, Wayfaring Stranger is a well-known American folk song about a plaintive soul on the journey through life. As with many folk songs, several versions of the song have been published and recorded over time by popular singers such as Burl Ives, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, and Jack White. In Taylor’s arrangement for quintet, the melody is passed through the entire group, featuring Wayne on flugelhorn, a duet by Chris and Taylor, and a tuba solo by James.
House of the Rising Sun – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
House of the Rising Sun is another well-known traditional folk song. Collected in Appalachia in the 1930s as Rising Sun Blues, the song likely has its roots in English folk music. The song tells of the troubles of the singer whose life has gone wrong in New Orleans, and gained popularity when recorded in 1964 by the British rock band The Animals. Taylor’s arrangement begins as a slow blues featuring Wayne on flugelhorn and moves to a tango featuring James as the basis for the dance style and solos by Ray on trombone and Taylor on horn.
Chicago – Fred Fisher, arr. Paul Nagle
Chicago was written and published by Fred Fischer in 1922. The song was made popular by Frank Sinatra and was one of two “Chicago” songs recorded by Sinatra – the other being the arguably more popular “My Kind of Town.” Fisher’s song is typical of Tin Pan Alley songs of the early 1900s. Tin Pan Alley was the section of New York (28th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues) that was the publishing center of the world from the 1880s to 1920s. The name was originally somewhat derogatory, referring to the sound of the cheap upright pianos that lined the street and played non-stop to demonstrate the music to potential buyers.
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town
Chicago, Chicago, I’ll show you around
Bet your bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago
The folks who visit all wanna settle down
All wanna settle, in my hometown
Georgia on My Mind – Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell, arr. Wayne Bennett & Chris Savage
Perhaps best known in its 1960 version by Ray Charles, Georgia on My Mind was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in 1930. It is often stated that Carmichael wrote the song about and/or for his sister, Georgia, but he stated in his 1965 autobiography, Sometimes I Wonder, that the saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer told him he should write a song about the state of Georgia.
This concert came to feature several tunes to feature American cities – St. Louis, San Francisco, and Chicago. During our rehearsals this past season, we often tried to think of tunes that would represent our home city of Atlanta, or the state of Georgia as a whole. Chris had the idea to set Georgia on My Mind for quintet and wrote the majority of the arrangement. Wayne wrote the ending and put in a few finishing touches, and we’re really happy with the end result, which may become a staple of GCB shows for some time to come.
Recorded at The Brickyard (Alpharetta, GA)
Produced by Gate City Brass
Recording and Mixing by Jason Chapman
Video Production by Brandon Taylor and Shane Nelson of Southern Entertainment Broadcasting
Art and Direction by Wayne Bennett
Photography by Jason Chapman
‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
The debut album from Gate City Brass is a collection of original Christmas arrangements for quintet written by GCB members Wayne Bennett, Taylor Helms, and Chris Savage. The title, ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime, is taken from the first line of The Huron Carol, included on the album in an arrangement by Taylor Helms.
Available on CD, Digital Download, and Streaming
Order the album and hear samples at Bandcamp
- Fanfare for a Good King, arr. Taylor Helms
- Sing We Now of Christmas, arr. Chris Savage
- Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, arr. Wayne Bennett
- Drum Carols, arr. Taylor Helms
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, arr. Chris Savage
- Still, Still, Still, arr. Wayne Bennett
- The Huron Carol, arr. Taylor Helms
- A Christmas at Sea, arr. Taylor Helms
- What Child Is This?, arr. Wayne Bennett
- In the Bleak Midwinter, by Gustav Holst, arr. Taylor Helms
- Holly Noel, arr. Chris Savage
- Silent Night, by Franz Xaver Gruber, arr. Bill Holcombe
Fanfare for a Good King – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
The album opens with an exhilarating fanfare by Taylor Helms. Fanfare for a Good King is largely based on the carol Good King Wenceslaus, which tells the story of the Bohemian king braving harsh winter conditions to provide alms to the poor. The tune forms the motives for the fanfare and is frequently juxtaposed with the familiar Christmas hymn Joy to the World.
Sing We Now of Christmas – French Carol, arr. Chris Savage
Sing We Now of Christmas was written in the 15th century in France, whe Hre it is known as Noel Nouvelet. Translated into English in the 17th or 18th century, the tune remains popular as a Christmas or New Year’s carol. Chris’s arrangement features the horn, flugelhorn, and trumpet in the melody, and later incorporates quotations from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and We Three Kings.
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella – French Carol, arr. Wayne Bennett
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella is a French carol written in the 17th century. The text of the carol refers to two female farmhands who find a mother and baby sleeping in a stable. They invite villagers to come see the newborn baby, but urge the visitors throughout the carol to “hush, hush,” so that he may enjoy his dreaming sleep. Wayne’s arrangement employs the Welsh hymntune Hyfrydol as a bridge. The tune is commonly used to set the hymns Love Divine, All Loves Excelling and Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.
Drum Carols – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
Taylor’s magnificent arrangement presents several drum-themed carols beginning with Pat-a-pan, a song from the perspective of the shepherds who watched their flocks by night. The familiar Czech melody Carol of the Drum is heard next and later closes the piece. Along the way, O Come O Come Emmanuel dramatically transitions to the Catalan carol, Fum, Fum, Fum.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Traditional, arr. Chris Savage
Our version of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing begins with a solo featuring our tubist, James Brewer, in a funk style. His solo gives way to a bass groove that drives the ensemble through the rest of the arrangement, culminating in a masterful trombone solo featuring Ray Buck.
Still, Still, Still – Austrian Carol, arr. Wayne Bennett
Still, Still, Still was first published as a carol and lullaby in 1865 in Salzburg, Austria. The melody of the carol is borrowed from an Austrian folksong. Interspersed with original material based on the melody, the carol is presented in a lullaby style in the beginning of our arrangement, but steadily grows to a majestic and contemplative ending.
The Huron Carol – Canadian Carol, arr. Taylor Helms
The album’s title track, The Huron Carol is Canada’s oldest Christmas song, written by the Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf while stationed in Ontario’s Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in 1642. While Brebeuf wrote the original lyrics in the Hurons’ native language, the well-known English translation was written in 1926, beginning with the line, “‘Twas in the moon of wintertime…”
A Christmas at Sea – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
This programmatic arrangement opens with a call and response that evoke images of the sea. Combining the carols I Saw Three Ships, The Gloucester Carol, and The Wassail Song, quotes from Jingle Bells and Silent Night, and a section based on The Drunken Sailor, Taylor’s arrangement depicts the story of sailors bound in duty at sea during the Christmas season.
What Child Is This? – English Carol, arr. Wayne Bennett
Set to the English folk tune Greensleeves, the lyrics of What Child is This? were written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix. Our arrangement of What Child Is This? opens and closes with a traditional chorale setting of the carol. Following the solemn opening, we move into a jazz waltz style featuring Wayne on flugelhorn and Ray on trombone.
In the Bleak Midwinter – Gustav Holst, arr. Taylor Helms
Taylor’s arrangement of Gustav Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter seeks to balance the beauty and simplicity of the melody with musical suggestions of the hard and frigid aspects of winter. The latter part of the arrangement masterfully depicts the bleakness of winter with long, dissonant harmonies before concluding with a subtle tuba quote from Holst’s popular work Jupiter from The Planets.
Holly Noel – Traditional, arr. Chris Savage
Chris’s arrangement Holly Noel presents the melodies of The Holly and the Ivy and The First Noel. The frequent shifts in meter underline the natural accents of the implied text of both carols. The arrangement builds to a climactic section where both tunes are combined, perfectly complementing each other before culminating in the bold final statement of The First Noel.
Silent Night – Franz Xaver Gruber, arr. Bill Holcombe
Silent Night is one of the most well-known and beloved Christmas carols. Written by the Austrian priest Joseph Mohr and set to music by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818, the now familiar carol was originally accompanied by guitar. This is the only track on the album not written by a member of Gate City Brass; we enjoy this arrangement by Bill Holcombe so much that we end each of our Christmas concert with it, and we couldn’t imagine a better way to close out the album.
Recorded at The Brickyard (Alpharetta, GA)
Produced by Gate City Brass
Co-Produced by Jason Chapman
Recording and Mixing by Jason Chapman
Mastered by Paul Lipscomb, Origin | Indie
Art and Direction by Wayne Bennett
Photography by Paige van Horn
This album was only made possible because of generous donations to our Kickstarter campaign, which ran in March and April of 2019. We are forever grateful to everyone that donated to the campaign, and we recognize every one of them here.GCB Donor Page