LIKE MANY people, when I saw the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. Nine guys, all from Chicago, touting battered brass instruments - tubas, trombones, trumpets - swaying and swinging as they performed their unique brand of tight, highly composed hip-hop/jazz instrumentalism.
Standing on a cold December day on Cruises Street last year, where 20-30 people gathered to see Barack Obama’s favourite band perform a taster before the Trinity Rooms gig that would come later, it became plain that their moniker is no fallacy - their playing very much hypnotic, as the name suggests.
Is this the most unique band in the world today?
The success the band has had in the last year would imply that they are; the eight sons of legendary Chicago jazz trumpeter and Sun Ra Arkestra founder member Kelan Phil Cohran, plus drummer Christopher Anderson, supporting and playing with Blur at Hyde Park in July, as well as Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, appearing on Jools Holland and releasing their debut album on Albarn’s record label.
Success and plaudits aside, to see these musicians perform live is to be literally hypnotised, an aura of telepathy surrounding them, a fact that Gabriel Hubert - aka ‘Hudah’ - puts down to the fact that they grew up living and breathing music.
We enjoy creating music - you have to fun, that is not the main element, but it helps,” says Hudah, on the phone from a Glaswegian hotel.
“The thing that makes our sound so unique is that we have been playing together since we were kids. We have been hearing these notes since before we were born. Our sound is more of a cosmic and spiritual connection than a physical connection - it almost can't be put into words, because it is bigger than our personal egos and feelings,” he adds.
The band are returning to Limerick this Sunday night for a very special early gig in Trinity Rooms, a pitstop on a whirlwind tour that is indicative of their growing popularity.
“In the last 20 days we have been in South Africa, Japan, Turkey, now we're in Scotland and then coming to Ireland,” says Hudah.
“We love coming to Ireland, it is a non stop party country, the people are very honest and true, you wear your hearts and souls on your sleeves and you receive that energy when you get there. The reception for us in Ireland has always been great and it can only grow. The more and more we come out the bigger the buzz grows.”
Asked what it is about the band that has seen them grow in popularity, the trumpeter is confident in his response.
“Overall we have a unique sound, style and brand and are a unique entity that grabs people when they don't want to be touched, it is something that you can't refuse. If you listen for two seconds, you are there until we let you go.
“We come from a strong family and our father taught us to believe in ourselves and knowing that it is something that only you can bring to the world, we have that sense definitely in our music, our approach to business, in every endeavour in our life.”
He adds: “We sacrifice a lot so that we can get our music out there, so we can be on top of the world at some time”.
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble play this Sunday night in Trinity Rooms nightclub, please note that this is an early show and doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster or directly from the Trinity Rooms.