Hypnotic Brass is a group with the power to take your body and soul into the cosmos. Cuts like ‘Gibbous’ and ‘Ballicki Bone’ have always been warmly received when I’ve played them for friends. These eight Adonises of the jazz scene tour more extensively than just about any other band around. But, despite being productive songwriters, regular recordings from them can be infrequent. So when a new Hypnotic Brass cut does appear, it’s like a gift from the jazz gods. Continue reading
It’s that time again to decide exactly which albums are among the year’s best. Albums that have pulled me through the bleak hours, albums that have clocked up hundreds of minutes as I’ve clocked up the miles and albums that have been the soundtrack to good times.
In what has been a turbulent year of change, we’ve had terrific albums from the likes of Lady, Caro Emerald and Blludd Relations, as well as some mixed debuts from Chvrches, Deap Vally and the Strypes. We’ve even had Beyoncé’s shock release of her fifth studio album at the eleventh hour, which goes to show you just can’t write-off the year in music until it’s all over. But none of those artists have made it into my top 25. And I thought it was tough choosing a top 10 last year – that was without hearing half of the spectacular 2012 albums that I arrived late to this year. Continue reading
“Can I get a hot tub?” yelled trumpet player Gabriel ‘Hudah’ Hubert, with all the jest of market trader, in the most tangential shout out a Jazz Cafe audience has been treated to in months.
The laughter that ensued drew the crowd closer to Hypnotic Brass before they’d even begun to serenade it with their cosmic sounds. Continue reading
Songs that make you get up and go, strut your stuff and sway in the breeze
Electric Guest – This Head I Hold
If your pulse doesn’t start to race to the sound of Electric Guest’s ‘This Head I Hold’, then it’s time you saw a doctor. It’s burst after burst of repetitive, high-energy rhythms that rise to a climatic zenith. Continue reading
What was it like to work in a 1950s newsroom? Fingers chattering out news stories on aging typewriters, cigarette smoke hanging in the air, leaving the room’s occupants – dressed in sharp suits, fading ties and trilbies – in a permanent state of intoxication.
I may never get to find out. But, thanks to my MP3 player and selection of hot tunes, I get feel like I’m a newsroom hack, sniffing out stories, on my daily trip to college. Continue reading
Though I’ve driven past it on many occasions I’d never actually been inside The O2 (or Millennium Dome as it was originally called) until now. Making our way toward the gargantuan structure from North Greenwich tube station its 12 yellow support arms dazzled against the night sky, illuminating the oversized marquee like a spaceship that had landed right in the centre of the city. Inside the thing itself was a myriad of restaurants, cafés, bars and entertainment venues all packed together in one of the most inventive architectural feats I’ve ever seen.
That night I was treated to a rapturous harmony of music from all corners of the globe, from the Lebanese National Orchestra for Arabic Music to De La Soul. Music from all three of the band’s studio albums – Gorillaz, Demon Days and Plastic Beach – was played, including some favourites I witnessed live for the first time, ‘19-2000’, ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ and ‘Demon Days’.
Calming, soothing and uplifting – that’s how I would describe the cosmic sounds of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. I heard one track, ‘Ballicki Bone’, from the brass-brothers during Damon Albarn’s Radio 1 takeover, in January this year. After just one song their music captivated me with fresh sounds and beats, giving me an instant attachment to their music. I got hold of an MP3 version of the radio show and played Hypnotic Brass’ track more than fifty times that same week. Their music is something else entirely. I’ve not felt this way about a band in a long time.
So, to my surprise, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the debut album from the eight-piece brass band, was released under Honest Jon’s Records in June this year. It arrived yesterday, and after only a day, I can tell this album is going to be standout addition to my music collection. You might expect a full brass and percussion album to be a bit too much after the first two tracks, but that couldn’t be further from the truth with Hypnotic Brass. From the upbeat ‘Gibbous’ to my personal favourite ‘Ballicki Bone’ (which sounds even cooler, thanks to a classy bass line), Hypnotic Brass Ensemble soothes mind, body and soul.