Thursday, March 13, 2014


On what would be the 180th birthday of the city of Toronto, I decided to end the night going to a musical extravaganza.  

At Lula Lounge, both “The Heavyweights Brass Band” and “Street Brass” treated a packed audience to a rousing Mardi Gras party that made you feel like you were in the hot shores of Brazil or in the French Quarter of New Orleans.   It was a night of feel good music that made you want to dance, shake your thang, and sing along to a groovy beat.

Street Brass opened the set by marching to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”, resembling a cross between Salvation Army organized horns and Pentecostal/Black Baptist church fervor.   After the opening, they would break into another New Orleans staple, “Do What You Wanna”, before delving the rest of the repertoire into the Latin American ideologies of Brazil and Colombia.    I really liked the Latin American music since it was fresh, exotic, danceable, and very intellectually stimulating.

Now the main event was the Heavyweights Brass Band.   Probably a cross between Art Ensemble of Chicago, Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, Trombone Shorty, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band mixed and cooked up into one hearty, spicy gumbo.  Playing the entire CD set, we were treated to special guest spots such as soul R&B vocalist (and fellow Jamaican Jay Douglas), soprano saxophonist and Spirits of Havana advocate Jane Bunnett, and percussionist Luisito Orbegoso.    Throughout the set I was dancing, getting my groove on, and reliving a part of my youth over and over again.

If the Heavyweights Brass Band doesn’t get a Juno (or even a Grammy) for their stellar, original work on New Orleans jazz, then there must be something royally wrong with the judges (or I should become a judge myself).   Not only they are one of the best and my favourite local bands to ever come across the scene in Toronto (and the majority of the members were born in Winnipeg and Vancouver), but they also do a great job of authentically channeling the black soul and history of the music that they play.   Again, one of the best concerts of 2014, and one of the best CD’s to start off 2014.


BELOW:   The Heavyweights Brass Band with Jane Bunnett and Luisito Orbegoso performing Christopher Butcher's composition "Misterioso".  


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