Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are standing on the shoulders of giants.
HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE performing as part of the NUJAZZ FESTIVAL with KING SUNSHINE and FOOTPRINTS DJs, SEAN SAX and DJ NUMERIC at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Saturday (November 15), 9 pm. $30, advance $20. ticketweb.ca.
While some progressive-minded insurgents have been prodding established jazz festivals into contemporary times by presenting satellite concerts involving acts with a dance-floor profile, the sad truth is that the old guard is just now opening the doors to fusionists.
Astute promoter Jay Cleary has noted that there's a large opening in Toronto for a festival presenting jazz artists who'd appeal to a younger club-going demographic for whom dusty Dixieland and boring big band jams have little relevance.
Cleary has proactively sought out specific artists and structured the concert bills for the three-night NuJazz Festival with the goal of maximizing crossover potential. That's why it kicks off with the full-band version of the Herbaliser sharing the Revival stage with Winnipeg's Grand Analog and Montreal MC More Or Less, along with DJ Rollin' Cash warming things up.
Friday night's highlight is Ottawa's Souljazz Orchestra launching their hot new Manifesto album with DJ John Kong at the Supermarket. But the big event is going to be the Saturday-night blast at the Opera House, with Chicago's mesmerizing Hypnotic Brass Ensemble throwing down with King Sunshine and Footprints DJs (aka Jason Palma, General Eclectic and Stuart Li), Sean Sax and DJ Numeric.
Formed by the horn-honking progeny of spiritual jazz bandleader/composer Phil Cohran, the nine-piece Hypnotic Brass Ensemble might appear to draw their main inspiration from the modern groups coming out of the New Orleans brass band tradition. But the aggressively funky Hypnotic sound was more directly influenced by the music of their father, who played trumpet in the Sun Ra Arkestra between 1958 and 61, the hip-hop music that was their daily soundtrack and playing in their Chicago high school marching band.
"No matter what we do, we've got to respect what's been accomplished by Rebirth, Hot 8, Dirty Dozen and all the rest of those guys - even groups like Chicago - who made it possible for us to have an audience for our music," says trumpeter Gabriel "Hudah" Hubert from his Chicago home. "We're all artists working hand-in-hand to spread a positive message to the world.
"Six years ago, Barack Obama was living and working on Chicago's Southside just like me. Seeing what happened in the presidential election lets me know that we're on the right path as far as the group being an instrument of change. ‘Hypnotic' stands for ‘Helping Y'all People Notice.' Through our music we're trying to bring people something they were missing."