Friday, June 05, 2009

Dancing Tuneage: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Venting here.
Sasha Frere-Jones, music critic for The New Yorker, irritates me with all things musical in the same way the Andy Warhol Museum irritates me in all things painting/visual art. I'm drawn in each time to see what and how Mr. Frere-Jones will be writing about a musical act and generally am dis-pleased with what he's got to say. In the latest issue of The New Yorker, he scribes about the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a most interesting band that, while certainly needing the publicity, is unfortunately written about by Mr. Frere-Jones.

I've heard these guys before; they are definitely worth the listen. I do agree with Mr. Frere-Jones about the danceability and drive of the music. The same result, except with a bit more oozy hip-sliding as is immediately in place when listening to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Listening to the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble reminds me of the Either Orchestra, another brass-based jazz group that drifts from the New Orleans sound.

The gasoline to my Frere-Jones fire this time? How about this choice line, "The band had eliminated one of the dreary commonplaces of jazz, that class-recital rhythm of soloing - "you go, I go, and so on", until the main melody returns." This man should not be allowed to review any jazz-related group, simply based on this idiotic, IMHO, line. It's as if he really had not listened to the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at all!??! Come on, buddy, each song has solos and returns. That's part of the BEAUTY not the "dreariness" of jazz.

I've purchased CD's... a long, long time ago, based on Mr. Frere-Jones' recommendations. Never again (and that "never" has lasted 3 years now)! My likes are not in line with his. Now, with the Philly Inky's Dan DeLuca and Tom Moon? Never a problem; I love what they love. I've never not loved a recommended artist they've written about favorably that I'd not yet heard of (enough double negatives there for you?).

So, thankfully I'd already heard of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Otherwise, my admitted prejudice against Mr. Frere-Jones' recommendations would probably have shut the aural door for me on this interesting group. My recommendation? Start out with this recording (downloaded only $7.99). They're still working out some kinks and the production is a bit "tinny", but you can tell that these guys must be fantastic live. And I'm sure you'll be moving body parts you thought couldn't move, listening to the CD. They're allegedly finishing an album with Mos Def. Hopefully, there will be a bit more coinage spent on the production of the album.

Other commentary on dance tuneage? Check out Yukon Cornelius reminiscing of Days of Dancing Past.


SFJ is someone I will only read when under duress. How such a mediocre, suburban approach to writing about music gets a plum spot in the New Yorker is beyond my understanding.

On another note (so to speak) I've been wondering who my palate cleanser is (it ain't Tom). Do you have one?
So glad to read that I'm not the only SFJ curmudgeon. That linked piece about palate cleansers you added was interesting, especially when Gertrude Stein was listed as one of the cleansers.
I readily understood the commenter who listed Tom Waits as cleanser of choice.
Without putting excessive brain matter on the topic, I'd say that, at least these days because I think this sort of thing changes all the time, that for matters of reading, Billy Collins is my choice of eraser while Pauseland and Tortoise
..are my current musical cleansers. I find it difficult to have the brain washed out if I were to listen to any song with significant lyrics. Listening to Tom Waits would only further load the head up; I'm not quite clear how listening to an excellent lyricist could cleanse. Now, if someone were to say they listened to Yes to clear their heads, I'd understand as that group's lyrics are simply random words somehow made into meaningless sentences.
"Pauseland" -- yes, I can see that. I suppose Brian Eno was once the cleanser for me, but hasn't been for quite a while. And Collins is a good reminder for me. There is no reason for any reader to avoid a compassionate poet.
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