In 1997, the DCI World Championships returned for the second year to Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of both Drum Corps International and Walt Disney World.
1997 Magic of Orlando
The Blue Devils won their ninth DCI title, finishing over the second place Cadets of Bergen County and third place Santa Clara Vanguard. Vanguard gave the Devils a scare in the Quarterfinals by tying first, remarkable since the corps started the season almost 10 points behind their fellow California corps at the two corps' first show of the summer.
Hometown corps Magic of Orlando finished in 10th place with "Carnivale: Celebrations for Sinner and Saint," inspired by the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans that takes place approximately two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season that leads up to Easter. The rambunctious partying takes over the historic French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans that dates back to the late 1700s.
The show started with some members having their card game interrupted by a spontaneous parade, the street band singing and playing "Lil' Liza Jane" by Countess Ada de Lachau, with many color guard members dancing and carrying colorful banners atop tall, flexible poles. Female characters in New Orleans' minstrel shows of the early 20th Century were often given the name "Liza Jane." The tune is a staple of New Orleans brass bands, which often march down the streets, joined by many of the revelers who happen to be standing nearby. The tune was even David Bowie's first recording in 1964 when he briefly fronted Davie Jones and the King Bees.
The corps' arrangement included sixteen counts of "When the Saints Go Marching In." Next was Robert W. Smith's "Bourbon Street Crawl," named for the legendary street that runs through the French Quarter that is crawling with visitors during Mardi Gras. Smith's "Mass" totally changed the mood with a reverent piece centered on an extended mellophone solo. Long white banners sailed across the field, representing the repentance that comes on Ash Wednesday. The brass section formed a large diagonal cross, reflecting on the spiritual nature of New Orleans that is exhibited after so many days of rowdy merrymaking.
1997 Magic of Orlando
"Mintzer's Voodoo Magic," written by Bob Mintzer, returned the show to a celebratory nature. This piece was based on his "In the Eighties," from the Bob Mintzer Big Band's 1986 album, "Camouflage." Mintzer was originally a classical clarinetist who became one of the most famous jazz saxophonists and big band leaders on the west coast. In addition to a being a prolific jazz composer, he has performed with a huge number of famous jazz artists, including a stint of more than two decades with the famed Yellowjackets jazz quartet. (Mintzer had composed Suncoast Sound's opener in 1983, the first year a Robert W. Smith-arranged show made Finals.) During this work, the guard returned vibrant colors to the field after the purifying all-white palette of "Mass."
The show ended with the corps marching off the field much as they marched on, to the strains of "Lil' Liza Jane."
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.