Funky eight-piece brass band Hypnotic Brass Ensemble hit London with style.
A beautiful mix of different genres are brought together by the highly acclaimed brass ensemble from Chicago, consisting of the eight sons of trumpeter
Kelan Philip Cohran.
It's a really wonderful thing to see hip doo-rag and snapback wearing guys pull out their array of brass instruments. Their stage presence is electric but down to earth. Nearing the front of the stage I was welcomed with a handshake from the tuba player Rocco which he offered to any hand near him. The atmosphere was a friendly and open one which blended perfectly with their style of performance and music. All raised in Chicago and brought up around an insanely musical family, these eight brothers were surrounded by inspiration from the very beginning. Their father, trumpeter Kelan Philip Cohran (a member of
Sun Ra's Arkestra and co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) would get the boys up early every morning to practice their different brass instruments, which later on would develop into them being a part of his project titled '
Phil Cohran Youth Ensemble'. The ensemble would play many a gig around Chicago as well as big deal performances for the likes of
Nelson Mandela and other prominent figures of the day. After a break to focus on high school and the harsh reality of losing close friends and family, the brothers rejoined to busk in the Subways of Chicago in 1999. Skip forward a little and they release their first project in 2004 titled '
Flipside'. This would be, one would imagine, quite a moment for the band; they were about to wow the world with their unique hypnotic creations. After touring worldwide, and gigging with the likes of
Mos Def and
Erykah Badu, the ensemble would continue to release self-titled albums all with the same cover photo, only distinguishable due to their different colour sleeves. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble became prolific and adored by the hundreds of thousands. Subba-Cultcha are ecstatic that they are still going stronger than ever and decided to come back to London to pour their heavenly funky sound upon us.
Opening their set with the infamous track '
War', the high energy was there from the start. The stage set-up consisted of four trumpeters, three trombone players, one tuba, a drummer, a conga and percussion player and a bassist bringing the booming grooves from the back; the sound was full and warm and as funky as you can get. The hip-hop drumming style kept things snappy and sexy to the ears, while the soaring brass notes lifted things to a melodic mellow mood. One thing not to go amiss was the bands amazing capability to involve the audience; whether it was singing along, rapping or becoming their 'church', the crowd interaction was a key part of how this ensemble like to share their energy to others. Swaying from side to side then up and down again, the brothers kept their moves going throughout almost as if they were a rhythm & blues band from the early 60's.
The crowd involvement was at a peak for their song '
Balicky Bon', where Rocco (tuba player) grabbed the mic and started to rap to the happy-faced audience. Pumping everyone's energy, he found his way into the sea of people and spoke to the hyped fans. 'This is Tom, everyone say
WHAT'S UP TOMMM' he chants. The band continue to play their instruments whilst grinding their hips to the consistent and impressive drumming and bass going on behind them. The great thing about this band is that their style is forever varying. One minute you're shuffling your feet to jazz inspired tunes, the next you're skanking to hip-hop heavy beats; even at times their style is reminiscent of gypsie music - kind of like a bunch of brass playing travellers. Other times the music almost feels like a salsa type of groove. Hyonotic Brass Ensemble are diverse. During 'P
arty Started' you could really feel those dancin' shoes wanting to come out and play. The ensemble's ability to stay perfectly in time and keep things consistent but also varied, leaves you feeling utterly impressed and thrilled that a band like this are doing what they do. Hats off to Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. We dig.
Jo Wells http://cargocollective.com/JoWells