Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2000 Crossmen
2000 Crossmen

Spotlight of the Week: 2000 Crossmen

by Michael Boo

Many will easily recall the 2000 Drum Corps International World Championship for how it ended. When The Cadets and The Cavaliers were announced as co-champions, it was the second tie for the title in two years and the third in five years.

2000 at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium marked the first year that any-key brass instruments were allowed by DCI rules. Also this year, performance recordings were preserved on DVDs for the very first time, and in a new judging change, the color guard marks for each corps was now included in the scoring recaps via its own caption. Prior to this, color guards were factored into the visual caption scores.

Eight placements in the World Championship Finals were decided by four tenths of a point or less, and Bluecoats survived the cutoff of advancing Semifinalists by just two tenths over Southwind. Boston Crusaders, celebrating the corps' 60th anniversary, jumped into fifth place in what was only the corps' second year performing in the Finals competition.

"Clubbin' With the Crossmen" was a fun, easy-to-listen-to production that earned the corps ninth place. A work in progress all the way through the start of the season, the show had originally been named, "At the Crossroads." This title was the one that made its way into the DCI souvenir yearbook, as did Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life," which was replaced during the corps' spring training rehearsals in favor of a Crossmen classic, "Birdland."

 

The corps opened with Bette Midler's rendition of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood," originally written by the famed swing era big band leader and composer who in the years 1939-1943 earned 23 number one hits, more than either Elvis Presley or The Beatles.

The hard-driving swing version arranged for Midler came off her self-titled 1973 album. The corps quickly evolved from a continuous curvilinear form into the corps' iconic Maltese cross logo. An aggressive color guard seemed just one spin away from collapsing in exhaustion during the music, performing as hard as the music was swinging.

Next up was "Caravan," written in 1936 by Juan Tizol, trombonist for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators, all members of Ellington's big band, recorded the piece, and Ellington even played piano on the session. During that era, different names were often used for recordings made by members of the same band in the belief that people didn't want to own recordings all by the same group. Ellington went on to record the tune more than 350 times with his big band and many smaller ensembles, and so it is often falsely attributed to his pen.

Crossmen started the piece with the thundering beat of bass drums and four large Brazilian surdo drums placed near the front sideline. They then explored an Afro-Cuban treatment of the tune that featured lots of hot, Latin percussion. The brass players marched to the front of the field to let a major blast of volume loose for the final statement of the melody.

 

The bluesy ballad coming up next, "Nobody Does Me," was written by Rod Temperton, who was known as keyboardist and main songwriter for the 1970s funk, disco, and R&B band, Heatwave. However, he's far better known for being recruited by producer Quincy Jones to write three songs for Michael Jackson's 1982 "Thriller" album, including the title track. A visual highlight in this section was the Crossmen color guard spinning two flags at once during the sultriest moments of the piece.

Joe Zawinul's "Birdland" served as Crossmen's closer. The tune was originally written for the 1977 "Heavy Weather" album that was recorded by the jazz-fusion band, Weather Report, for which Zawinul was keyboardist.

Crossmen first played "Birdland" in 1996 and also brought back the tune in 2007. This version featured sections of the horn line taking their turns showing off their technique, starting with the baritones, followed by the mellophones, and finally, the sopranos; all sections doing their thing in close jazz harmonies.

The arrangement, visually accented by the entire color guard spinning red and orange flame-like flags, captured everything there was to say about why it would be so much fun to go out for a night of "Clubbin' With the Crossmen."


Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than 35 years 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, Indiana.