LP review: Black Dyke plays Langford

Black Dyke Band
Conductor: Roy Newsome
Soloist: Don Lusher
RCA Recordings: LSA 3270

It is rare to find a brass band recording that brings together two remarkable musical talents at the peak of their powers; even rarer still when they are able to display them in full with a third, fast approaching its own.

At the time of this release, Gordon Langford was 46.

Already an Ivor Novello Award winner, his reputation as a master of the deceptively difficult art of ‘light music’ sealed through his radio, television and film work – from the music to accompany the famous BBC ‘test cards’ to the King Singers and Hollywood film orchestrations.  

Don Lusher was 52 and had just taken over the leadership of the Ted Heath Orchestra.

His talent as a consummate big band player was endorsed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean – seeing him lead the trombone section on many of Frank Sinatra’s European tours.   

All this and Black Dyke had just completed a British Open hat-trick, won the National Championship and become BBC Band of the Year.  

In 1976, all three were in a class of their own. 

Kimberlite seam

The result was a recording of remarkable acuity; one that opened up the last great Kimberlite seam of ‘popular’ repertoire to be effectively exploited by the brass band medium.  It lasted two decades before being mined to exhaustion.

Langford (1930-2017) led the way for others to follow and delve ever deeper for ‘light music’ gems to arrange – notably Howard Snell.  

Few others though managed to polish, as well as set, the diamonds he picked out so brilliantly. Even today they retain a rare flawless brilliance. 

Few others though managed to polish, as well as set, the diamonds he picked out so brilliantly. Even today they retain a rare flawless brilliance. 

His arrangements are subtle, adroit pieces of craftsmanship; precision scoring that balances warmth and nostalgia with novelty and inventiveness.  There is a seamless flow to the music – no crass gear changes or enforced harmonic injections.   
Here, ‘A Sullivan Fantasy’  is a Savoy Opera in itself, whilst Faure’s ‘Pavane’  has a tender, gossamer-thread delicacy. ‘Waltzing Matilda’, ‘Irish Washerwoman’  and ‘Billy Boy’  are full of wit without ever losing the essence of their source characterisation - a skill so difficult to master. 


All that and there is remarkable ingenuity in his approach to convention and invention in his ‘Prelude and Fugue’, whilst ‘Sinfonietta’  retains its vivid freshness as well as beauty – the ‘Andante’  middle movement a perfectly packaged piece of sumptuous simplicity.  

It is one of the most underrated works for the medium.

The recording is topped by the iconic performance of ‘Rhapsody for Trombone’ – stamped indelibly with the ‘Lusheroso’ copyright trademark of the peerless soloist (1923-2006); the long lines and rich harmonies woven to create a sublime showcase of inimitable, suave style; mimicked and copied in the years that followed, but perhaps never bettered. 

And style like that – even in a mid 1970s Britain when ‘The Don’ wore a polyester shirt and Farah slacks on the LP cover, will never go out of fashion or lose its timeless appeal.

Iwan Fox

Side 1:
1. Sinfonietta (Langford)
i. Allegro ma non troppo
ii. Andante
iii. Allegro vivo
2. Rhapsody for Trombone (Langford)
Soloist: Don Lusher
3. Prelude and Fugue (Langford)

Side 2:
1. Billy Boy (Trad. arr. Langford)
2. Pavane (Faure arr. Langford)
3. Waltzing Matilda (Trad. arr. Langford)
4. Irish Washerwoman (Trad. Arr Langford)
Soloists: Don Lusher, Frank Berry, Denis Essex, Allan Widdop
5. A Sullivan Fantasy (Sullivan arr. Langford)

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    

Contest: 100thSpring Festival

Saturday 8 May • 97 Church St, Blackpool, FY1 1HL

Contest: 168th British Open

Saturday 11 September • Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA

Contest: Lower Section National Finals

Saturday 18 September • The Centaur, Cheltenham Race Course, Prestbury, Cheltenham GL40 4SH

Contest: Lower Section National Finals

Sunday 19 September • The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL40 4SH

Contest: National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain

Saturday 2 October • Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP

Sandhurst Silver Band

April 14 • After well over 12 months, playing Connotations at the 1st Section National Finals as a first contest certainly has a nice ring to it. Following relocation, Sandhurst are looking to fill the following vacancies:. . Solo Cornet;. 1st Horn

Garforth Brass

April 12 • Garforth Brass is looking forward to resuming playing when permitted in May/June time and is looking to recruit cornet players to complete our line up. Rehearsals are at Garforth Methodist Church, Church Lane, Garforth, LS25 1NW Sunday evening 6.15-7.45pm

Lindley Band

April 12 • 2nd BARITONE required by LINDLEY BAND to join our friendly team when we resume rehearsals in our own bandroom located just 1 mile from M62 Jcn 24, near Huddersfield. Monday and Wednesday 8 to 10 pm. We enjoy a balanced mix of contests and good engagement

James Garlick

BMus (Hons), QTS
Conductor, Band Trainer, Adjudicator, Tutor


 © 2021 4barsrest.com Ltd