Naval Academy Stage Band: Channels
Kool and the Gang
From Wind and Song (USNA, 1970)
Jazz purists may hate the late ’60s/early ’70s with a passion for all the funky big band that got recorded in that era…and they’d have a point insofar as a lot of crappy music was being made. But occasionally, you’ll come across something that now seems cool despite itself and while we may not consider – today – a military band being particularly funky, in 1970, it seems like the Navy was willing to give the sound a go. These two tracks are from a double LP put out by the U.S. Naval Academy, featuring different outfits. 3/4ths of the album is straight up military band and/or glee club songs but the 4th disc is reserved for the Academy’s stage band. These dudes may not have been the Kashmere Stage Band or the cats out of NTSU but believe me: I’ve heard worse.
The cover of “Kool and the Gang” is pretty big band-y and not terribly interesting even if the drummer sounds like he’s having himself a decent time. But I liked “Channels,” which seems to have been an original composition. The song sounds like something, had you actually heard it at the Academy, would probably sound avant garde enough to leave folks scratching their heads. It’s dark, a bit dissonant at times and at :53, the percussion session gets to let loose and that drummer starts in on the trap set, followed by the guitars, a little organ and then the full brass section and suddenly, this song gets really quite good. I don’t think it’s a crazy reach to say that it could have been something in the Axelroad/Adderley wheelhouse.
(P.S. I’m going to try to play catch up with a ridiculous number of records that have been on the back burner for months now. We’ll see how far I get before the gas gives out but just be forewarned).