A TALE OF PERSEVERANCE - Mareika Gray - the story of an unlikely musical journey

Issue 6006

ON THE BEAT - The first in a new series by Gavin Pritchard discussing all things percussion

PRODUCING A RECORDING - Adam Goldsmith reveals the secrets to a successful recording

Welsh Regional Championships - 2nd Section LIVE!

Saturday 17 March, 2018

2nd Section

Test-piece: Ex Terra Lucem (Jonathan Bates)

Saturday 17 March

Draw: 11.00am (commences 1.00pm)

Adjudicators: Steve Sykes and John Winterflood

Paul Hindmarsh reporting 


Full Result

1. Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins)*

2. Ifton Colliery (Scott Lloyd)*

3. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

4. Ammanford Town Silver (Glyn Davies)

5. Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)

6. Abertillery Town (Joshua Ruck)

7. Penclawdd (Tony Small)

8. Crwbin (Craig Roberts)

9. Blaenavon Town (David Langley)

Best percussion: Pontardulais

Best Instrumentalist: Saemus Gallaher

*qualifies for finals



In the BB Frame

1. Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins)

2. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

3. Ammanford Town Silver (Glyn Davies)

4. Penclawdd (Tony Small)

5. Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)

6. Crwbin (Craig Roberts)



A steady, but bright start, with everything nicely in place and well projected – the fanfare chord really cuts through, but everyone has space and time to play in time and in style. The soprano cornetist has a huge sound (in this context) but can also play quietly and controlled. There is a range of sound and attack here that other bands have not found.
In the second movement, to ample sound of solo cornet and solo horn impresses, as it is teased out of the somber texture by Tony Small. Just a few intonation flaws to dim the picture ever so slightly. In the pianissimo section, the tubular bells and glock. add an important element of mystery to the music. The only on to really capture that today.
The semi quaver figuration is rock steady at the start. The band finds details that others haven’t. Bumper up plays the improv. solo well and we don’t get too loud too soon. I enjoy hearing the semi-quaver patterns right to the end – not many have achieved that, because the bottom end has been too loud.

7. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

Just promoted from the 3rd Section, but you wouldn’t know that from the confidence and precision of the playing, although the tone is more contained than some we’ve heard- not bad thing if we can hear all the details. Once the band opens out, the sound is balanced and tuneful. Well done for placing the compound quaver groups correctly! The diminuendo from the dissonant chords (well done!) was controlled and led the ear appropriately to the ‘Checkmate” inspired chords. What a lovely cornet solo – tender and expressive but not overdone and a great sound. This set the tone for some controlled and expressive playing from band and soloists, with Robin Hackett keeping things moving and balanced – great job! The way the solo cornet dictated the dynamic levels of the band, and overs responded perfectly in sync revealed the extent of the preparation and attention to detail that few others have reached in this section. Solo cornet excels once more on the back of the beat of the improvised style solo. And like Pontardulais, the intensity builds gradually so that we still hear detail – bravo for a final chord where we hear the dissonance and not just noise.

 6. Ifton Colliery (Scott Lloyd)

This is going at a lick – compromising precision somewhat and a clean opening flourish. There are similar rhythmic issues that others have experienced , but there is an attractive energy and touch of bravura style in this opening movement that appeals.

The solo cornet soars over the band in his melodic moments. Flugel too catches the ear. It’s a pity about the tuning issues in the chords at the opening of the movement, because this is lovely.

The ostinato passages struggle to be played consistently as the tempo is on the slow side and gets slower. Bravo solo cornet 2 for your attempt at the jazz improv. style. A firmer front to slightly shorter long notes would have given this more purpose and sustained the drive to the end. 

5. Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)

The opening of his performance highlights a rhythmic issue – the placing of the compound quavers in the 12/8 opening section. There is a tendency to rush through them without placing the down beat. This performance also could highlight the added note chord a little more. Overall the stone is well rounded and creates considerable volume at full tilt. The contrast between the brilliance of the cornets and the more opaque lower brass was captured well in the dissonant chords.

The warmth of the band’s basic sound is also highlighted at the start of the second movement – take a bow principal cornet! The control shown in the quiet muted section is exemplary.

A slight lack of coordination in the semi quaver patterning at the start of the final catches the ear. Otherwise, some tidy playing. Again, the principal cornet does well. The rock movements are a tad heavy (including drum!) and lacking in rhythmic ‘poke’ but lost to commend here from an expansive Royal Buckley.

4. Abertillery Town (Joshua Ruck)

Plenty of energy in the opening section, although details are not all precise and clear. The horn soloist projects well in the second melodic passage, although the solo cornet line isn’t always blended. The dissonant climax chord packs a serious punch. The Bliss Checkmate moment at the start of the second movement isn’t as comfortable as others we’ve heard. We also lose the soloists into the texture until some tender flugel phrasing rescues things. The PP muted section suffers from some untuneful chords, but the musical approach is spot on, with solo cornet to the front of the image, so to speak. Overall, this movement erred on the fragile side. The short finale is more straightforward and was well played, if a little overpowered by the percussion at times.

3. Ammanford Town Silver (Glyn Davies)

Technicolour start from Ammandford – very loud and sometimes a bit overloud for the contest, but the players are fully committed. The articulation could be crisper in the fanfares material to create more contrast. The soloists are efficient but could perhaps be a touch more expressive. The melodic music needs a little more time and flexibility. He pianissimo section is very quiet, but the tuning suffers with mutes in.

The repeated cornet figures at the opening of the finale come across clearly, although there are balance and clarity issues in the up-tempo final section. A spirited well-prepared account of this work, where the playing of the second movement will be crucial to the outcome.

2. Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins)

A bright opening, light on its feet, with soaring euphonium dominating the texture. The martial music has a touch of brilliance about it, with lovely euphonium flourishes and tightly balanced close harmony. Subtle melodic details and shapes are coming across – nicely nuanced to contrast with medieval pastiche moments and the dissonant finish – excellent work and also control in the diminuendo to the end from muted cornets.

The soprano cornet soloist excels again in shaping he principal melody, supported by a resonant accompaniment. The flugel horn and solo cornet match the soprano - nice touch. This is being carefully and respectfully delivered. The controlled pianissimo ending is so quiet we can here the conversations from the bar next door – well done band! The ending is really beautiful – measured and controlled – out of which the glitzy finale emerges naturally and also expressively from the lower band.

Paul Jenkins then gradually winds things up, but the jazz fusion music is never over done – all in style and never so loud that we can’t hear the detail. When he lets the percussion off the leash, band responds with drive and power. Percussion went ott on the last chord but lots to admire in the playing here.


1. Crwbin (Craig Roberts)

Plenty of attack and power in this opening performance of Ex Terra Lucem. The band was digging deep and not shattering too many panes of glass in this St.Helens tribute piece by Jonathan Bates. The second movement was played with sensitivity and control. The Bliss tribute ideas – derived  largely from the Checkmate ballet, came over well. A strong opening performance.


1. Crwbin (Craig Roberts)

2. Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins)

3. Ammanford Town Silver (Glyn Davies)

4. Abertillery Town (Joshua Ruck)

5. Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)

6. Ifton Colliery (Scott Lloyd)

7. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

8. Penclawdd (Tony Small)

9. Blaenavon Town (David Langley)