Thanks to the hiring of highly esteemed band director James Hudson and a subsequent $750,000 anonymous donation later attributed to businessman Verde Dickey, the Arizona State marching band has been significantly upgraded in advance of the football season.
The band now has 284 members, up from 230 last season, and will feature completely new uniforms and instrumentation.
"Jim is known across the country as one of the best band directors in the nation," said Steve Hank, ASU's assistant athletic director for marketing. "The excitement that his arrival brought to our athletic bands program has been incredible.
"He's done a fantastic job in growing it because of the reputation that he brought with him and the improvement that the band showed last year including their nationally acclaimed show with (horn-based soul band) Tower of Power."
Hudson, in his second year at Arizona State, arrived from the University of Kansas and immediately boosted the visibility and profile of the school's band, due in part to performances like the one cited by Hank.
"We went from being a band that was equipped right at the average for bands across the country to being instantaneously one of the best and most well equipped marching bands in the nation," Hank said.
"The standard and goal for our marching band is to be the best band in the country. We're going to have the nation's largest university and we want to have the nation's largest and best marching band. With Jim Hudson and the generosity of that donor, we're able to do that."
The band will have a 40th anniversary Doors tribute to open the season on Saturday, and a tribute to drummer Buddy Rich on Sept. 8.
On Oct. 13, the Boston Brass quintet will be performing an arrangement of Duke Ellington's Caravan. The Homecoming game on Oct. 27 will feature an all-Latin show.
The season highlight may come during a nationally televised game against USC on Thanksgiving night, when Rock and Roll icon Chuck Berry will perform with the band.
It's an impressive showcase for a band and a University that is desirous of doing everything it can to improve the experience of games at Sun Devil Stadium for its alumni and fans.
"Bands are an amazing part of college football games," Hank said. "They provide enthusiasms, passion, and are a large component in the pageantry of college football. There's nothing better than a great collegiate marching band involved in college football."