After coming out swinging with their debut album in 2011, Toronto-based collective THE HEAVYWEIGHTS BRASS BAND now packs a one-two punch of crossover appeal and respect from music’s elite with the release of their sophomore album BRASSTRONOMICAL.
This country’s greatest purveyors of feel-good horn music burst onto the Canadian jazz scene with their energetic brass band covers of contemporary pop hits. Now with Brasstronomical, the Heavyweights are offering a unique sound with emphasis on their original compositions. They delve deeper and more eclectically into each musical direction implied on the first album. Brasstronomical reveals the band’s music is stronger, bolder, ballsier, funkier and more mature than ever before. Similarly, the sound of the new album is fuller, richer, with more elaborate production while retaining the players’ raw burning passion.
While the Heavyweights remain inspired by the New Orleans tradition – after all, they cover the dirty, gritty “St. James Infirmary Blues” here – they are a product of their local Toronto environment and skillfully reference the incredibly diverse, multicultural music scene the city is known for. The band lithely moves between funky modern originals like the title track and “Hypnosis” to hot-burning material like “I think I’m Going Crazy”; from the neo soul of “Telephone” (written by Erica Badu and two members of hip-hop royalty, The Roots) to a wild cover of the RUSH prog-rock anthem YYZ (a nod to their hometown Toronto); and from an especially sweet version of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” – which the members of the band can recall from their childhoods – to the pulsating Afro-Cuban jazz of “Misterioso.”
In fact, “Misterioso” offers a perfect example of the sort of respect that the band has earned from some of the world’s most exceptional musicians. The song features iconic national treasure and frequent collaborator Jane Bunnett, playing off of the propulsive rhythmic drive of legendary percussion master Giovanni Hidalgo – who’s performed and recorded with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Paul Simon, among countless others. Hidalgo joins the band live at Koerner Hall on the explosive, incendiary album finale “Float.” Jamaican-born, Toronto-based, JUNO nominated R&B singer Jay Douglas soulfully sings on the traditional New Orleans-style “Booze Hounds.” Receiving props from The Roots on twitter, they have also been championed by influential British DJ Gilles Peterson.
The band is trombonist Christopher Butcher, Rob Teehan on sousaphone, Paul Metcalfe on saxophones, Lowell Whitty on drums, Jon Challoner on trumpet and recent addition John Pittman also on trumpet. Of particular note, is Metcalfe’s solo on YYZ where he mimics a wailing guitar, but every one of the players has incredibly inspired moments that leave their indelible mark on Brasstronomical.
1) Brasstronomical 4:08
2) Booze Hounds w/ Jay Douglas 4:36
3) I Think I'm Going Crazy 4:37
4) I Believe I Can Fly 4:54
5) Misterioso w/ Giovanni Hidalgo & Jane Bunnett 5:01
6) Telephone 5:16
7) Hypnosis 4:25
8) YYZ 4:20
9) Sundown 4:08
10) St. James Infirmary Blues 5:14
11) No One Said It Would Be Easy 4:29
12) Float 6:24
13) Exit 2:20
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