Locke Brass Consort

Discussion in 'theMouthPiece.com User Reviews' started by Dave Payn, Dec 31, 2003.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Anyone else remember this group? They were quite active in the 70s and 80s and made a number of recordings, some of which to my mind, could stand alongside PJBE's recordings. The only ones that seems to be available now is a re-release of some fanfare music which wasn't their best effort, and a re-release of their album of the complete music for brass by Richard Strauss, which, whilst excellent, is charged at full price for a 38 minute CD! They released a couple of LPs on the Unicorn label in the 1970s (Contrasts in Brass vol. 1 and 2) which lived up to the LP titles admirably with some diverse 'serious' brass music from all over the world. In 1982 they released an album entitled Symphonic Marches for Concert Brass on the CRD label (which may still be available on CD, I'm not sure) which included the 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky's sixth Symphony and an arrangement of the Grand March from Aida amongst others.

    They also made a recording which was never released over here, of the music of the Belgian composer Francois Glorieux. I was lucky enough to play some of these pieces in my youth (notably his 'Tribute to Stan Kenton') and this recording is, I believe, the Locke's best one. Fabulous brass writing and playing to match it.

    I beleive the group still exists, but don't seem to have made any recordings for a while. Anyone else remember them and/or their recordings? Any former (or even current!) members of the group use this forum? I'd like to hear your views. I live in hope that one day the aforementioned Contrasts in Brass (and maybe the Glorieux?) might be re-released on CD, but I doubt it.

    Kind regards
  2. carlwoodman

    carlwoodman Member

    Dave, I remember this group although never bought any of their recordings.
    I recall them being conducted by James Stobart, I think, and one of their organisers was the Bass Trombone player at ENO, Leslie Lake.

    They did a recording for the BBC Radio 3 'Bandstand' programme during the time I was a student (early 80's). The BBC must have played the wrong tape or something because the music stopped and the conductor was heard to say something like 'OK, let's go from letter G'! I don't think 'Bandstand' was ever live but that was certainly not acceptable from the BBC.
  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I've got two of the lps - "Contrasts in Brass" (presumably volume 1?) and "Jubilant brass", consisting largely of fanfares by predominently British composers.

    At the back of my mind, I seem to think they also did an lp of Richard Strauss brass music, including the Fest Musik der Stadt Wien, but I would have to check at home about that one! There is certainly some very stylish playing.

    (Edit: Just read Dave's posting properly where he'd already menitioned the Strauss! Although the fanfare recording is not perfect, it does reproduce some unfamiliar snippets, including writers such as Havergal Brian, whose brass writing is always worth listening to)
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Yes, I'd heard about that BBC programme. I understand the members of the Locke were none too impressed either (unsuprisingly!)

  5. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Indeed the Jubilant Brass LP is now available on one of those £4.99 CDs from Chandos and it's been re-named 'Fanfare - British Music for Symphonic Brass Ensemble'

  6. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I remember them well and have all the LPs. I recall that the Strauss recording caused a fuss and upset Philip Jones because he had gone to the trouble of getting permission from the Strauss Trust (or whoever) to record the work, and LBC breezed in and stole his thunder - or something like that, anyway. PJBE had the last laugh, I think, because their version was superior to LBC's - and contrary to what Dave Payn said elsewhere some time ago, superior to the RAM's recent version - that's my opinion anyway :!:

    I even went to see them somewhere and have probably got the programme somewhere - I'll see if I can find it.

    Haven't got the Glorieux LP but do remember their Bandstand broadcast featuring Hymn to Humanity, Summer Meeting '77 and later Viva Kenton. Also remember the famous cock-up with the Tchaikowsky.

    Time to get the gramophone out again, I think.........
  7. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Must admit, I didn't know that story, Jim (re PJBE), but on the PJBE album which features Festmusik (Festive Brass), credit is given to James Stobart for his work in producing a legible set of parts (albeit, as was later discovered, with a number of wrong notes)

    Thank you Jim (and others) for sharing your thoughts thus far!

  8. W.Rimmer

    W.Rimmer Member

    The Locke Brass Consort is still alive and well, but the days of the big large group, Queen Elisabeth Hall concerts and recordings seem to be over...funding isn't as easy as it used to be! Les Lake still takes bookings for the group. I played with them in Farnham just before Christmas. It was a six piece group with a choir on that occasion.

  9. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I have been asked to put the record straight by the former MD himself.... (this is not an attempt at 'name dropping' but James Stobart had this thread pointed out to him and merely wishes to correct a couple of stories that have obviously been doing the rounds)

    'There was absolutely no problem between Philip Jones and the Locke brass. No one stole anyone's thunder. Whilst researching for large-scale brass works for the LBC, I came across a Strauss piece entitled "Fanfare for the Town Hall" (Rathaus). Boosey's did not know of this piece so I approached the Austrian State Library. They confirmed Boosey's opinion that this work did not exist but passed on the query to the Strauss family. Some months later and quite out of the blue, I received a photo-copy of Strauss' original score of "Festmusik der Stadt Wien" in the composer's own hand with a letter from a Franz Strauss (possibly nephew to the great man). This was a bombshell, a major work by Strauss which had lain neglected for many years. Even Norman del Mar, the Strauss scholar and biographer, did not know of its existence. There was no question of Philip Jones approaching the Strauss Trust as none of us in this country knew of the existence of "Festmusik".

    It is possible that "Festmusik" was far too long for its original purpose as a ceremonial fanfare and Strauss reduced it to the familiar "Fanfare der Stadt Wien" (already recorded by the PJBE).

    With the score came a stipulation that any use of it should be arranged through Boosey and Hawkes. Thus, I informed them of the "new" piece and gained permission to extract a set of parts, perform the work at the QEH and have first rights to the recording. As you can see, Philip Jones was not involved in the re-discovery or first modern performance and recording of "Festmusik". As you rightly say, Philip was kind enough to mention that I had prepared the parts on his LP. Incidentally, Philip Jones was most helpful to the LBC in many ways. He even passed over a very prestigious concert and broadcast to the LBC when the PJBE could not fulfil the engagement.

    Incidentally, I still have the Strauss score - a few chords are unintelligible (badly written) and I had to make choices in these cases. Others might have chosen a different solution, who can say.

    Leslie Lake was here with me in Lincolnshire last week-end and the LBC is still functioning as an occasional small group. My association with the group ended when we ran out of large works to perform!

    As for the BBC Bandstand fiasco, the work in question was by Wilfred Josephs, an extremely difficult and accident-prone piece. It seemed that no one was monitoring the broadcast at the BBC as when Wilfred phoned in (immediately after the broadcast) no one knew anything had gone wrong. Incredible! (n.b. - I presume the Josephs work in question is 'Consort Music' though more than happy to be corrected - DP)

    I hope this is of some interest and might help to put the record straight.'
  10. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Could it not have been the "Concerto for brass"? I have a recording of this by the London Collegiate brass, coupled with George Lloyd's "November journeys" (later added into his symphonic canon).
  11. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Could well have been but I think, referring to the QEH concert that James Stobart mentioned, Consort Music was in their programme as well as the Festmusik that day. Snippets of the concert were broadcast on the radio (including, if I remember rightly, the rarely performed brass ensemble version of Gordon Langford's Harmonious Variations on a Theme of Handel). It wasn't too long after that concert, as I remember, that the Bandstand broadcast took place.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2004
  12. HowardLake

    HowardLake New Member

    Yes, the Locke Brass Consort is still performing. My dad, Leslie Lake, is still bass trombone at ENO and runs the Consort. Sadly there are no more of those QEH South Bank concerts of the 1980s and there haven't been any recordings for some years.

    The LBC is now 42 years old. I should know: my dad founded it in the year of my birth, 1966.
  13. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Just chanced upon this thread!

    I haven't seen Les Lake for some time. I had heard he is retiring this year after many many moons in the Coliseum. I sincerely hope he enjoys his retirement amongst his collection of weird and wonderful old instruments! I used his lovely old Bass Trumpet a few years ago, but he wouldn't part with it!

    Please pass on my fondest regards to your Dad, Howard.
  14. HowardLake

    HowardLake New Member

    Thanks. I'll pass on your good wishes.

    I spoke to him just yesterday evening. He had just completed his 43rd season at ENO. Yes, he retires at the end of this year, and will no doubt enjoy spending more time with this collection of old and odd instruments. ;)

    He continues to have fingers in various pies though, including:


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