When I was in college and first heard New Orleans brass-band music, I dug it, though I think what first grabbed me was the debut album by Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, I Only Have Eyes for You (ECM, 1985)–I still love his version of the Flamingos hit. But my deeper love of brass-band music came much later, whenever the Music Box first screened Emir Kusturica‘s Underground. The opening sequence, which I’ve embedded below, blew my mind. Considering how crazed the film was, I assumed the director had cooked up the manic brass-band sounds, recorded by the great Boban Markovic (pictured at the upper left), to suit his vision, but I soon learned that this high-velocity approach was a real Balkan tradition. I was hooked.
In subsequent years I realized that distinctive brass-band traditions exist all over the world, and it became a mild obsession for me to track down examples. Though I no longer seek out new recordings as rabidly as I once did, I still love listening to the stuff. Tomorrow night I’ll be playing tunes from my brass-band collection at the Hideout (from Brazil, India, Serbia, Nepal, Mexico, Cuba, Benin, the Philippines, and elsewhere); I DJ before, between, and after sets played by the powerhouse trio of saxophonist Fred Anderson, bassist Harrison Bankhead, and drummer Tim Daisy, as part of the last event in the weeklong celebration of Anderson’s 80th birthday.
UPDATE: Since a canceled flight from New Orleans over the weekend prevented drummer Hamid Drake from participating in Anderson’s birthday celebration at the Velvet Lounge, he’ll be playing a last-minute duo gig with the saxophonist for the second set on Wednesday–the trio with Bankhead and Daisy will just play the first set.
Carl Stone, Woo Lae Oak (Unseen Worlds)
Various artists, Melodii Tuvi: Throat Songs and Folk Tunes From Tuva (Dust-to-Digital)
Cliff Nobles, The Phil-La of Soul Singles Collection, 1968-1972 (Jamie)
Judith Berkson, Lu-Lu (Peacock)
Sonic Youth with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow, Andre Sider af Sonic Youth (Sonic Youth)