DCI.org's Mike Boo wrote introductions to each of the 12 drum corps shows that will be broadcast on the big screen at the DCI Classic Countdown. We'll be running two more introductions each day. Here's the second excerpt. 1976 Blue Devils Boy, oh boy, do I remember hearing this show for the first time. Somehow, the Blue Devils were on before the Cavaliers at one of the two shows in Stillwater, Minn. We had lined up behind the stadium just as BD started "Channel One Suite." In the second movement, (the ballad), when the sopranos took the soaring melody up one, maybe two -- seemed like three or four -- octaves, I remember the members of my corps turning to each other with their jaws dropping to the ground. I had never heard such a sound. So clear, so astounding, so high. It was hard to accept how good BD had gotten so quickly. After all, Jerry Seawright had added horns to the mix just six years earlier, and two years earlier, the corps first made finals with a mix of music that had yet to stamp "jazz" on the foreheads of all its members. So young a corps, and here they were on their way to winning all captions at the DCI World Championship. "Channel One Suite" was unique for a number of reasons. At seven minutes, it was the longest single musical selection played to date by any DCI finalist corps. Jim Ott's horn line (assisted by a young unknown by the name of Wayne Downey) was able to capture all the jazz elements that made the original so effective, treating the horns as one big band, right down to the saxophone licks. And the famous drum solo duplicated exactly what Buddy Rich did, turning the entire drum line battery into a single person sitting on a drum throne. The horn stabs interrupting the drum solo seemed to come out of nowhere and each one lifted the anticipation of the closing chord higher and higher. "Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor" and "Chase the Clouds Away" made many of us run out to buy albums by this guy named Chuck Mangione. "Legend" proved to us that Bonnie Ott, mid-voice horn soloist supreme, was worthy of being listed among the best of the all-time horn players, and her part in the duet of "Chase" was said to make many eyes misty. It was brilliant how the rifles gathered on the 50 in "Clouds" to mask the lines of horns going backfield, leading the eyes to be surprised by the sudden unveiling of the open-wide "V" that brought the horns back to the forefront. There was little doubt at the time that BD would win its first DCI World title that bicentennial year, becoming the youngest-existing corps to win the championship -- a record that yet remains. What we couldn't have imagined is the long string of victories and great performances the corps would go on to give us ever since. 1980 Spirit of Atlanta If any corps was going to knock Blue Devils out of "youngest-existing corps to win a DCI Championship" derby, it would have been this corps. Even though they finished in fourth place, it's important to remember that only .8 separated them from first place. A different night, a different panel -- who knows? In only their fourth season, the corps was laying claim to a legitimate shot at the title. Jim Ott of Blue Devils fame had done wonders with the horn line and at the time, no line was able to deliver such volume with such clarity. Tragically, Jim was lost to the activity in an auto accident while on tour. It's really a wonder the corps was able to pull it together after that. All during World Championship prelims, fans were going backfield at Birmingham's Legion Field to spell out the names of their favorite corps, raising and lowering the bottoms of the backfield seats for the desired effect. The names changed almost with every corps. After at least a half day of this, a group went backfield to the upper deck and spelled out "JIM OTT." The tribute went untouched for the rest of the week, a silent tribute to a beautiful soul, a giant in the activity. The backfield stands in essence became a shrine that allowed countless fans to deal with their sense of loss. The corps show was heavy on tunes referencing the corps' home state --"Georgia On My Mind," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "Sweet Georgia Brown." "Georgia On My Mind" in particular demonstrated the horn line's love of lots and lots of volume, turning the speaker up to the proverbial "11." Often forgotten amidst the fond memories of the horn line is that Tom Float's drum line tied for high percussion at the DCI World Championships. But due to general effect being the tiebreaker, the drum title was awarded to the Bridgemen. This show gives us a chance to witness the power of the "Let It Be Me" climactic horn company front in the glory of surround sound. Don't be alarmed if you experience a temporary buzzing sensation after the final chord.
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