Friday, August 6, 2010

The return of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

JUST WHEN we needed a bit of cheering up, arriving out of the gloom are eight brothers from Chicago on an adrenaline-fuelled jazz train.

Hyperbole, plaudits and acclaim aside, the very fact that Damon Albarn used the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble on the recent Gorillaz record, had them on the main stage at Glastonbury, and released their album on his own label, plus the fact that they are supporting the Wu Tang Clan the night before they come to Limerick - tells its own tale.
This is a tale of eight brothers and their friend and drummer Christopher Anderson, who form this spiritual and cosmically connected brass-jazz-hip hop ensemble - and who play in Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday night.
The eight brothers, led by spokesman Gabriel ‘Hudah’ Hubert, who joined On the Beat for a genial chat recently, are sons all of the legendary jazz musician Philip Cohran, who had a seminal role with Sun Ra in Chicago in the 1950s.

Cohran turned 83 recently, and his sons were by his side to help him celebrate.
“He is still coaching us and gives us pointers on life,” says Hudah.
“Any time he hears about the things that we do, he always tells us how proud of us he is, and how much more that we have to do. Our father told us that music is supposed to be inspiring and we are here to inspire and as long as I can get that point across and people come up to us after the shows and say they had a great time, then that means I can go on with my job,” he adds.
Witnessing a live HBE show is simply hypnotic, in the absence of a better description, the eight brothers employing a mixture of battered brass instruments - tubas, trombones, trumpets - swaying and swinging as they play.
They have also added a new element of lyricism and crowd participation, beefing up their act considerably.

“The more and more you do something, the better you get at it, and you always try and flip it up and make it fresh so it doesn't become boring to you, and as long as you can be creative and keep it exciting, then the crowd is going to receive that,” says Hudah.

“Our father says when you open and close with a great song, then everything you do in the middle is going to be excellent, so we try to keep that format going and try to be as free as we can and definitely try and loosen up the crowd,” he adds.

Unprompted, the HBE member instantly namechecks the band’s recent gig in Dolan’s, saying he was just watching a You Tube video from that night in April.

“I was just remembering the energy of that crowd out there, it was nice,” he says. “The energy was incredible there last year. Ireland always shows us love, no matter what city we are in, what crowd we are performing before - they seem to love us and we respect the love back, it is a give and take thing that has been working out.”

This is a veritable Band of Brothers, who feel subconsciously connected, so do they believe in fate, that they were destined to follow this path?

“This is no accident, by no means whatsoever. Everything we have done so far has led us to where we are now. The more and more we do it, the more we know we are ambassadors to the world, we are not just representing ourselves, we are representing all the people who we grew up with, and our parents.”

Although the band recently recorded and released an EP with Irish promoters Choice Cuts, there are plans afoot for a full album release in the near future, one that should push HBE into the stratosphere.
“Right now we are back in the process of being in the studio to record some new material, we don't have a release date for it yet, we are just gathering the material because we wanna take the world by storm, we wanna give the people what they know we can give, and what we know we can give - a classic album,” says Hudah.

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble play in Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday night, along with Limerick’s own B+ (Brian Cross) and Leon.

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