After a four-year hiatus, the Tarnished Brass returned to Cortez for a free concert at the Cultural Center on Saturday, playing a mix of lighthearted and recognizable tunes including “Ashokan Farewell,” a melody woven through the well-known Ken Burns documentary film “The Civil War.”
Concertgoers also heard a medley of tunes associated with the Southwest put together by Thomas Root, an “in-house” composer and arranger for the group. Root, a recently retired professor of composition and band director at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, was one of the five original members of the group when it began playing brass music 51 years ago in Minnesota. At that time, all five were recent graduates of the University of Minnesota and its band program, and all were directing school bands around the state.
Also included in the program was an original composition, the result of a collaboration between Root and Pagosa Springs artist Jessica Peterson, who performed “Nighteagle Suite,” named after her mentor, Lakota storyteller David Nighteagle.
The Tarnished Brass – Jim McCreary, Bob Waggoner, Larry Vogel, Larry Peterson, Barry Fox, Mike Fuller and Mark Olson – get together twice a year. They were in town in August to help celebrate the retirement of the Rev. Reverend Leigh Waggoner, priest at St Barnabas Episcopal Church and wife of Bob Waggoner, one of the members of the group.