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One Nation Under God
Music for a free nation
By Steven Martinovich
Not surprisingly there has been a dramatic surge of interest in patriotic and faith-based music in the United States since September 11, 2001 and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. "God Bless America" continues to be a staple at sporting events across the country and many seek comfort in timeless standards written to celebrate faith and their nation. In turbulent and dangerous times, many Americans simply want to hear music that reaffirms the love they feel for their country.
They could do far worse than One Nation Under God, a recent release by Altissimo Recordings, a firm that specializes in military and patriotic music. The album boasts a strong lineup of instrumental music performed by bands from all branches -- army, air, marine and navy -- of the United States military. Works from composers ranging from the expected John Philip Sousa to the unexpected John Williams are represented and the album even features the presence of none other than former senator and current Law & Order star Fred Thompson.
One Nation Under God opens with Thompson stirringly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while the US Marine Band accompanies him with "Gods of our Fathers" before moving to the US Army Field Band's rendition of "Variations on a Shaker Melody". Standards both well known -- such as "Nearer My God to Thee," "Amazing Grace," and "March of the Mitten Men" -- and not as familiar including "Hymn to the Fallen" from Saving Private Ryan round out the rest of the album.
"Faith is a source of hope and inspiration for people of all walks of life," argues David Sellers' liner notes and that sensibility unites the twenty pieces of music on the album. At times it is somber but often gives way to a joyous celebration, sometimes in the same piece of music. The United States, her military and her people's faith in God are well represented on this album. Though sometimes the songs don't flow from one to another as easily as they should -- a jazzy "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" seems a little out of place though it is very skillfully performed -- it's hard not to enter into a reflective state of mind listening to One Nation Under God.
Obviously nearly 72 minutes of instrumental music performed by military bands might not be to everyone's taste but for those who enjoy this style of music, One Nation Under God would be a lovely addition to their collection. The album manages what the genre at its best was designed to do, invoke mental imagery that inspires and reminds a person of the glory that is their nation. The music captures the majesty of America's spirit and honors that great nation at the same time.
Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
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