University of Miami Wind Ensemble, Urban Requiem

Brian Wise

By Brian Wise

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Classical music that pays tribute to Detroit’s Motown sound.

Born in 1954 as the son of a dance band drummer, Michael Daugherty grew up playing keyboards in garage bands, enthralled with the tight harmonies and call-and-response vocals of early Motown records, which he tracked down in black-owned beauty shops in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Many of his compositions feature references to figures of the ’60s: Elvis Presley, Rosa Parks, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, among others. In Motown Metal — a piece for a large brass and percussion ensemble — Daugherty taps into his own musical upbringing, paying tribute to Detroit's Motown sound. With its tuba groove, thumping brass chords and churning polyrhythms, the piece may not quite invoke the Funk Brothers, but it's an entertaining, energetic ride all the same.