In 2006, the Cavaliers would have had a perfect season had it not been for three shows in July that were won by the Blue Devils, who ultimately finished in third place. At the DCI World Championship Finals, it was Phantom Regiment's "Faust" show that came within 0.375 of the Green Machine in the year the corps paid homage to its nickname with "Machine," a mostly original musical presentation penned by brass arranger Richard Saucedo and percussion arranger Jim Casella. When the robots stopped their rampage, the corps had won its seventh DCI title, also taking caption awards in Brass, Visual and General Effect. This was one of the Cavaliers' most popular shows ever. The color guard members—costumed to look like non-threatening robots (with non-functional headsets)—was a constant source of wonder, exhibiting occasional bouts of humor. The drum major set the pace by giving his salute in a robotic fashion, and then the brass players and drummers took turns coming out of their shut-off state to re-animate themselves and get on with the show. "Movement I—Genesis" commenced with some sinister chords and robotic, stiff movements by the corps, accompanied by whistles and metallic industrial sounds. Clanking sounds were heard throughout from the percussion, with three final clanks after the horns finished playing choreographed by all the members' heads moving to the industrial clatter. "Movement II—Wired" was largely based on "Renewing Vows" from "Sweet Release," a ballet by Wynton Marsalis. But before the Marsalis melody could kick into gear, a lone guard robot mechanically lumbered to stage right and began directing the rest of the corps in movement. The straight lines of the prior block form responded to his will and compressed into a block "K," at which point the block rebounded, knocking the robot backward into a back flip. Then a robot on the other side directed the corps into a wedge, but that too sprung back into the block. Throughout, the front ensemble offered up quite a number of unique sounds that today would possibly be created by a synthesizer.
Repetitive like a pulsating machine, the piece featured a ton of articulate brass stabs and a "skipping record" that was only reset when a robot came up and whacked one of the brass players who was stuck in the rut. Horn players passed robots over their heads to a piccolo trumpet duet and executed a number of jerky body movements typically the domain of the color guard. A soft trumpet segment featuring harmon mutes with the stems in created an ethereal sound practically never heard on the field due to the muffled volume of the effect. That mute effect led into "Movement III—Premonition," an ominous and haunting segment that could be taken as a warning about relying on too much mechanization. "Movement IV—The Machine Age" followed, appearing to set the stage that the robots were firmly in control and weren't going to go home any time soon. Some more elastic drill akin to a taffy pull led into the finale where the robots totally took over; instead of being passed over the musicians' heads, they passed musicians over their heads. The show ended with the brass players that had been passed overhead turning into robots, perhaps the only time a number of brass players didn't play in a final loud chord. The lone drummer to be passed overhead, a snare, ended the show after the horn line cut off, throwing down a few rudiments in a last act of defiance. However, his bravado was too late. Clearly, our new robot overlords had assimilated all. This week only, you can save on 2006 World Championship Audio and Video Performance Downloads on the DCI Fan Network. Buy the 2006 Cavaliers Video Performance Download. (Available this week only for $3.99. Regular price: $4.99.) Buy the Audio Performance Download bundle of all 12 Finalists from 2006. (Available this week only for $15.99. Regular price: $19.99.) Offer ends Monday, June 27 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
2006 Cavaliers performance excerpt.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.