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The First Percussion Sextet
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RCA Victor LPM-2352

Lover
Begin the Beguine
Fickle Weather
My Favorite Things
St. Louis Blues March

Tea for Two Cha Cha
Where or When
London Bridge
Mambo Drumbo
A Day at the U.N.
Cincinnnati Ratamatati


The First Percussion Sextet: C. Warren Hard, Director
Bob Swan, Earl Zindars, Bruce Spencer, Chuck Speas, Ralph Roberts, Doug Alien

With the recent resurgence of interest in recorded percussion, it seemed only natural
that a musical ensemble at last be formed consisting entirely of percussionists, and
dedicated to the expansion of the repertoire of instruments one does not blow into or
draw a bow across or pluck or strum, but which one strikes with some sort of mallet.

Well, The First Percussion Sextet must be credited with unusual foresight because it
was formed in 1947 at Ohio State University. Needless to add, the founding fathers
were all student drummers. By 1951, the group was proficient enough in making
melody, as well as rhythm, to appear on TV and in concert before Eastern schools
and colleges.

Part of the impact of the group is certainly visual: six grown men stride on stage and
play, during the course of the concert, a total of twenty-five different percussion
instruments in pieces covering music from jazz to the classics. But a good portion of
The First Percussion Sextet's appeal is aural: the group actually plays songs and
achieves harmonies with instruments that were designed primarily to serve as vehicles
for rhythm. A variety of musical effects is at the mallet-tips of these six musicians, and
they also manage to inject liberal portions of humor and excitement into their fare.

When the house lights dimmed in the acoustically perfect auditorium at West Virginia
University for The First Percussion Sextet's concert, the program was similar to many
the group had done in the past. But there was one major difference: this concert was
being captured on tape for records.

The program opens with Lover, taken at a furious clip and spiced with a hearty
Latin-American beat. Chimes, vibes and bells carry the meludy, with bongos, congas,
timpani and snare drums driving the ensemble to the whirlwind climax. Norman Beatty
arranged Begin the Beguine for listening or dancing. All of the percussion instruments
come into focus over a beat suitable for a glide around any dance floor. Fickle
Weather
is Sextet member Earl Zindars' tone poem to the elements in four
uninterrupted sections:rain dance, showers, storm, and clearing after storm. From the
Rodgers and Hammerstein production "The Sound of Music," comes My Favorite
Things,
arranged for the Sextet by Director C. Warren Hard. Among the instruments
contributing to the proceedings are tuned antique cymbals, muted bells, the
"Swanophone" and the celeste. The side closes with St. Louis Blues March, which
should ring some bells with fans of the late Glenn Miller, for the Sextet has adapted
the famous Miller marching band treatment of this classic for an ensemble of
percussion instruments, including xylophone, bells, snare, timpani, and even a bit of
piano.

Side Two opens with Tea for Two Cha Cha, an arrangement in which bells and
xylophone figure prominently, with assist from the celeste and snare drum. Where or
When,
another Beatty arrangement, was fashioned as music to dance to. Memories of
a first piano lesson inspired London Bridge. The melody is heard clearly, then it fades
out completely and is followed by the sharp rap of the teacher's ruler across the
stumbling fingers. Timpani, bass drum, hand cymbals, xylophone, bells, chimes and
jazz drums are among the objects also rapped. Mambo Drumbo has everyone
sprinting because a total of nineteen percussion instruments is used, including claves,
marimba, triangle, bongos and bells. The Sextet salutes World Peace with A Day at
the U.N.,
a composition with its dissonant moments, but which ends in harmony (and
with everyone in the same key!). The program closer is Cincinnati Ratamatati, a
Beatty composition which brings drummers Chuck Speas and Bruce Spencer out
front for some flagwaving solo work over the ensemble.

Copyright 1961, Radio Corporation of America











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