Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at the OLG After Dark Series on June 28
It’s not often an eight-piece band comes along that fuses different rhythms and styles and genres of music with interchangeable instrumental roles. Not to mention a band that consists of eight brothers, all of whom grew up playing music together as kids.
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble form Chicago, IL is one of those musical anomalies. I’m not going to go as far as directly comparing them to The Jackson 5, but the parallel is hard to resist. HBE consists of the eight sons of jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran, and they are all frighteningly talented. They gained recognition in the late 1990s by playing in the cavernous depths of Chicago’s subway stations, showing off their talents and strikingly distinctive sound to those who passed by. Since their first recorded project Flipside in 2004, they have quickly become regarded as one of the most innovative, dynamic groups on the circuit today and have played many corners of the earth. Not only have they shared the stage with the likes of Mos Def, Wu Tang Clan, De La Soul, Prince, Femi Kuti, and Gorillaz, they have recorded with such artists as Erykah Badu, Ghostface Killah, Childish Gambino, Maxwell, Flea, and many more. Needless to say, this band was a huge addition to the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup this year.
Their set at the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage attracted a crowd of old and young, many of whom probably experiencing HBE for the first time. People seemed a little hesitant at first, maybe not knowing how to react to a group that plays trumpets, baritone, sousaphone, and trombones on top of rapping and soul/funk/jazz-inspired rhythms. However, that didn’t last long. Even lots of folks who brought their lawn chairs into the area inevitably got up and started moving their bodies to the music they were hearing. I even tried my hand at dancing meringue, which ultimately ended up being horribly embarrassing.
The band got the crowd involved by getting the right side and left side to battle for loudest part of the audience, as well as getting the ladies and gentlemen to yell back and forth. This helped to electrify the people, giving the guys on stage even more energy. By playing songs such as “War” and “Party Started,” HBE provided me with the perfect soundtrack for drowning away my sorrows after my World Cup team, Chile, lost a heartbreaking game to Brazil which led to their elimination. The pain went away, if only for the duration of their set.
Those of us lucky enough to have caught HBE at TD Ottawa Jazzfest this year were given much more than our money’s worth. They’re performance alone was on par with David Byrne and St. Vincent at last year’s Jazzfest, not to mention how good the music sounded. As things come to a close, HBE was a highlight not only of the OLG After Dark Series, but of the festival as a whole.
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival’s OLG After Dark Series Bites Its Thumb at the Curfew
Nestled right within Confederation Park, the longest days of the year aren’t privy to what goes on after dark. This year’s Jazz Festival, brought to us by Toronto Dominion, is having again this year its 10:30PM shows for the OLG After Dark Series at their Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage. To celebrate, Beau’s Brewery has released the limited edition After Dark Ale, which will be the key for contestants to win tickets to this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest.
Sweet shows have already begun! Those of us who can’t manage our schedules properly have already missed DJ Rekha, Austra & Snarky Puppy on the first three nights of the festival. Tonight Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society will massage our senses with approximately a 17-person big band!
Tomorrow is the very exciting Socalled, a producer, composer, singer, songwriter from Montreal who grew up in Chelsea, QC will make some of his funk hiphop come to life for us (minus the digital effects, but probably with a few anyways).
Wednesday we’ll see Jazz Festival veteran Bill Frisell with his amazing project Go West. With the assistance of talented musicians Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wooleson, he will be mapping out a 1925 Buster Keaton film titled Go West with their percussion, bass & guitars. Thursday the 26th we’ll have the classic big brass band from New Orleans, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, celebrating their 35th anniversary as a musical entity. Friday the 27th we’ll witness the pop ensemble Lake Street Drive after dark touring their third LP release, Bad Self Portraits. This American quartet has some sweet R&B and jazz background to their upbeat & wonderfully sung tracks.
On Saturday the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, which needs no introduction other than the video below, will play into the night of the week, follow by reggae rock & irish violin from singer/songwriter Michael Greilsammer on Sunday, and Irish punk (!) from The Mahones on Monday!
Thus ends the After Dark Series, but the final day of the festival will see it into Canada Day. Indeed, this series is but a taste of the entirety of the Jazz Festival’s programming. The beautifully simple full schedule is here. You stay jazzy Ottawa!