Live Review: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at Tut’s, 1/7/13


Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is composed of eight brothers who share the same ‘parallel passion’ of hip-hop and jazz music.


With three trombones, four trumpets, a sousaphone, baritone, drums and frequent rapping and humming, their music objectively seems better suited to a large auditorium rather than the small and intimate venue of King Tut’s, however the band’s ambitious promise to play an amalgamation of ‘soul, jazz, hip hop, reggae and rock’ is beautifully realised in tonight’s 75 minute set.

There is something instantly endearing about seeing so many brass players squeezed onto the small stage at Tut’s.

The band’s charm is confirmed as they all excitedly high five the crowd and hype the audience up.

The brothers may be on stage but their feet are firmly on the ground as they stay behind at the end of their set to chat to the audience—albeit armed with their cds.

Hudah introduces the first song and tells the crowd that their music is fuelled by ‘love.’

This warmth is retaliated and the band’s excitement transfers to the excited crowd who quickly get over any initial apprehensions about dancing, by the third song there is hardly a static body in the whole audience.

The band’s performance is hypnotic which is particularly evident in their third track ‘War’, possibly their best-known song owing to its appearance on Later…With Jools Holland as well as Hunger Games.

The brothers all move in perfect time with one another without it looking uniform or contrived, while their performance sounds improvised and spontaneous, such a sound is a result of immense talent and a lifetime of classical jazz training.

‘Party Started’ begins with the band’s distinctive brass driven jazz-funk before it breaks into rap.

This vocal interlude is a welcome relief and gets the crowd moving and singing back.

The band intersperse some of their own influences into their music, ending the song with DJ Deeon lines, the brothers no longer move in sync but instead to their own rhythm.

Next to follow is ‘Menage et Trois’—an unreleased track but one that gets the crowd swaying.

The sleazy funk number ‘Balicky Bon’ featuring vocals from several of the band members and snatches from Lord Finesse’s ‘Party Over Here.’

The band launch into ‘Let’s Get Kryptonite’—another rap fuelled amalgamation of brass instruments, thick bass notes and solid drum beats.

Closer ‘Gypsy’ sounds exactly as the name suggests with its spiralling melodies, arpeggio brass effects and a folk/jazz sensibility.

Watching Hypnotic Brass Ensemble perform is a powerful experience, the brothers’ energy is relentless and despite playing their respective brass instruments constantly except to break into song, they never seem to tire.

This energy is infectious and at their instruction they have the audience singing, swaying and getting low by their last track.

On an overcast July Monday evening in Glasgow this is no mean feat.

Words: Anna Paul


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