Friday, March 7, 2008

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Jupiter

The Hypnotic Blog

In the past week, during my commute, which as of late has finally reached, in spite of the near ten years I have called New York home, the kind of frequency and psychological intensity commonly associated with bustling metropolitan life, I have several times passed the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble in the midst of a performance in, or around, the Union Square subway system. When I saw that they had re-surfaced, I recalled that I had picked up a CD of theirs during their last subway residency, the 2nd of a series of now 3 CDs. The track 'Jupiter' is the title track from their second album Jupiter. Although it is somewhat atypical of their sound, its impassioned, controlled beauty alone is enough to warrant its being shared. There is a tidal swell of horns, whose modular repetition recalls Riley-style big-band minimalism. There is a wild singer, who intones psychedelic-spiritual invocations not dissimilar to those of June Tyson, who sang with the Sun Ra Arkestra. This would seem highly appropriate, given that of the ensemble's nine members, eight are sons of Phil Cohran, who played trumpet with Sun Ra from 1959-1961.

The track resonates in my ears as they are tuned into 60-70s ensemble jazz, not only the Ra, but Eddie Gale as well, another Arkestra adept. Hypnotic Brass in general however seem to steer less towards interstellar expanses than the no-less far-out dark corners and alleys of an urban cosmos -> which is to say that head-nodding, neck-snapping hip-hop funk and soul are their central cause, if still all the while fueled by the beautiful energy of the big-band jazz ensemble that undoubtedly father Cohran had a hand in cultivating.

Here's a youtube clip of a new track, "War", where you get another dose of precise jazz horn figures with bricklayer beats. Other youtube clips of HBE feature cover versions of stuff like, that one Outkast song with the sick-ass horn section, and 'Moments in Love' by Art of Noise. At least, I believe it to be the AON track, as less-than-ideal recording circumstances seem to have compromised the audio quality.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble's first two CDs are now available on itunes. As far as I know, they are currently maintaining their Union Square live residency. Check their blog for more tour dates. PS the lead image is from an issue of the German music magazine Loop, the cover of which announces Eine musikalische Familienbande! See Hypnotic blog for the full photo spread, which is kind of sick.

"THAT NETHERLANDS FRESHNESS: if you get out there, Amsterdam has some raw barbers, y'all."

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