The piece Moon River, written by Henry Mancini, and arranged by Billy Byersis, is performed by the ensemble of the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors. There is no leader or conductor in this ensemble, but the soloist is present – it is Sgt. Maj. Kevin Watt on flugelhorn, who performs the leading melody (The United States Army Field Band, 2017). The piece, especially in this arrangement, causes positive feelings, but with a tinge of longing for the past and even a slight tremor as if before some long-awaited event. Moon River was composed for the famous movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and as it can be noticed, the melody is of a limited range in order to allow Audrey Hepburn to sing. It seems that the purpose of this music is to carry the listener through the waves of memory and make them recall all the adventures of life.
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The instruments presented in the ensemble are perfectly suitable for performing this task: a piano, a guitar, a drum set, the trombones, the saxophones, and the flugelhorns. The tempo is relatively moderate, but it accelerates, approaching the culmination along with crescendo. In general, the music is performed in mezzo-forte, and it is conjunct as it was initially conceived for singing. As for harmony, it can be described as a consonance with a smooth-sounding combination of chords. The texture is homophonic as there is mostly one prominent melody supported by the accompaniment. The performance itself is very coherent and aligned, which can be inferred from the fact that it is a military ensemble. However, it has the downside in terms of the seemingly excessive tension as jazz is usually performed in a more relaxed way. Still, I like this piece in terms of instrumental basis and the skills of the ensemble, but from my perspective, emotions are also necessary for musicians.
The United States Army Field Band. (2017). Moon River – The Jazz Ambassadors. [Video]. YouTube. Web.