The mighty band of musical brothers ‘Hypnotic Brass Ensemble‘ from the south side of Chicago return for their annual Copenhagen show this Wednesday at Pumpehuset. It is a sure fire way to annihilate any cold chills the winter dark may be causing your body or soul. They have a formidable reputation as the livest of party starters, winning fans and newcomers over every time and building a loyal, worldwide following through their regular touring and intense collaborations with the likes of afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, Gorillaz, Mos Def and Ghostface Killah as Childish Gambino.
Recently they have been touring their ‘Bad Boys Of Jazz’ sound which explains the dapper suits in the banner picture but many will know them better as the band who do a mean line in Hip Hop beats and horns including a killer cover of the Outkast tune ‘SpottieOttieDopalicious’ which originally appeared on their Heritage EP as ‘Spotie‘.
According to their own Hypnotic TV on You Tube they have just finished recording a follow up to the series in Ireland with Choice Cuts. Heritage 2 will appear soon in a limited run without any track titles to guide cover spotters. It finds them “going outside our norms/../growing and challenging ourselves”. These new iterations of all things ‘hypnotic’, as they often describe their musical style, involves the addition of bass and guitar to what was for long a strictly brass (with drums) band. It sounds like a natural evolution to bring in a string instrument and replace the tuba with bass. In such capable musical hands you can be sure things are only gained and not lost with this expansion. You can’t be getting stuck and left in a brass box either now can you ? Check their last full length out here.
Hypnotic have been here before. Danish fans know them from previous Pumpehuset shows, their appearance with Prince at Amager or the show at Roskilde in 2010, when they were touring the excellent record released the previous year on London record shop and label, Honest Jons. Their unique style, sound and talent has attracted Hollywood too, the song War was featured in ‘The Hunger Games’ and they have also stepped into acting – appearing as musicians in the Jimi Hendrix movie. You get an idea of the personalities and humour they bring to a show in this video of them clowning around on set.
Of course the on-point cover versions and their own big rabble rousing tunes get any crowd and room with a heartbeat going, but the key with Hypnotic is that their entertainment instinct is married to instrumental chops that come from a deep musical place and tradition, no matter what form they take. The affinity to jazz and its traditions undoubtably keeps them sharper than most when it comes to really whipping the music out live but it is also possible to hear the musical training they received growing up as the sons of Kelan Phil Cohran, a respected musician and composer who played trumpet with Sun Ra in his Chicago years and was one of the founders of the influential AACM; an organisation whose charter stated a committed “to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music” which has influenced many corners of modern music.
Basically the lads are no blow-ins, if you can pardon the pun. The strict regime of practice and discipline, the rich musical heritage, their start as a street band, the love of hip hop and the bonds of Brotherhood all lie at the heart of Hypnotics music. It is these elements that find both joyous and rawkus expression in their live shows and that’s the distilled stuff that is so good for you.
There are still some tickets left for the show at Pumpehuset on Wednesday. Doors at 8 and I will have the honour of sounding out the room with some records before they perform…and also after.
If you want to dive a little deeper into the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble background then this pair of short, perfectly matched videos below will give a concise glimpse into the story and sound behind the band. Allow yourself some minutes free for hypnotic trance and see you at the show.