Tiny Desk

Canadian Brass

Canadian Brass: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/153278780/153296640" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

If you said the Canadian Brass represented the "gold standard" among brass quintets, you'd be right on the mark. Aside from performing on 24K gold-plated instruments, the group, led by its avuncular tuba master (and sole original member) Chuck Daellenbach, essentially put the idea of the brass quintet on the map.

For more than 40 years, various iterations of the Canadian Brass have played in a staggering range of situations: in concerts from Moscow and Tokyo to Boston and Beijing (the first brass ensemble from the West to perform in China); on Sesame Street, the Tonight Show and movie soundtracks; and in guest appearances with many symphony orchestras. They love social media and maintain accounts not just on Twitter, but also on the Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo (@canadianbrass on both services). Then there are the recordings — more than 100 of them, selling more than two million albums total.

Needless to say, with history like that, Canadian Brass knows how to put on a show. Daellenbach and his fresh-faced players, each with red-striped sneakers and matching outfits, strolled into the NPR Music offices, took their places behind Bob Boilen's desk and started blowing as if they'd played this peculiar gig a hundred times.

They began with a version of J.S. Bach's intricately woven Little Fugue in G minor, an impressive staple that stretches back to the band's first recording. In those days, precious little was available for brass quintet (two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba), so the band relied on making arrangements of existing music. Since then, Canadian Brass has transcribed and commissioned more than 200 works, including "Tuba Tiger Rag," Luther Henderson's lighthearted tribute to Dixieland jazz. It's a showpiece for Daellenbach, who twirls his tuba (while playing) and lands on a final note of such subterranean depth that you feel it more than hear it.

The players closed with another favorite, Rimsky-Korsakov's dizzying "Flight of the Bumblebee," in an arrangement by Canadian Brass trumpeter Brandon Ridenour. Although the music buzzes past in less than two minutes, players get plenty of opportunities to shine — as in the lightning-fast runs negotiated by trombonist Achilles Liarmakopoulos, the newest member of the group.

After four decades, it's great to see Canadian Brass — practically an institution at this point — still sounding fresh, still attracting young virtuosos and, above all, still having fun with the music.

Set List:

  • J.S. Bach: Little Fugue In G minor
  • Luther Henderson: Tuba Tiger Rag
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight Of The Bumblebee

Personnel:

  • Christopher Coletti, trumpet
  • Brandon Ridenour, trumpet
  • Eric Reed, French horn
  • Achilles Liarmakopoulos, trombone
  • Chuck Daellenbach, tuba

Credits:

Producer: Tom Huizenga; Editor: Michael Katzif; Videographers: Emily Bogle and Michael Katzif; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Albin Lee Meldau performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 12, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Albin Lee Meldau

Albin Lee Meldau possesses a thunderous, deeply affecting voice, which he uses to tell some utterly dark, but demonstrably cathartic, tales.

Rare Essence performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 9, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rare Essence

Rare Essence has been bringing go-go to the world since 1976 — the group brought that pedigree, and the genre's massive meld of funk, rhythm and blues and soul, to this raucous hometown Tiny Desk.

Tuxedo performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 20th, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tuxedo

Tuxedo, the unlikely-on-paper funk-soul duo of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One, brought a left-of-center sonic approach and a sharp sense of style to their Tiny Desk Concert.

Fragile Rock performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 16, 2017. (Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Fragile Rock

Fragile Rock is a band that relies on the boogie of The B-52s, the melancholy of The Smiths and the humor of Kermit the Frog. Oh, and they're all puppets.

Jay Som performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 7, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Jay Som

Melina Duterte may have played all the instruments on Jay Som's newest record, Everybody Works, but her touring band brought a rougher edge to those silky recordings.

Chance The Rapper performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper, fresh from a 23,000-strong, sold-out show the night before, brought a thoughtful and fresh take to his Tiny Desk concert.

Helado Negro performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 22, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Helado Negro

Helado Negro ditches his bank of electronics for alto and tenor saxophones, bringing his utterly unique style to a intense, perfectly balanced Tiny Desk Concert.

Ravi Coltrane performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 4, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ravi Coltrane Quartet

Artistic legacy, evolution and studied ease coalesced at this Tiny Desk Concert, with Coltrane offering four interpretations of his and others' works.

Holly Macve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Holly Macve

Backed by a suitably low-key band, Macve would sound subtly radiant just about anywhere, from your nearest country bar to the most dreamily lit stage in Twin Peaks.

Tigers Jaw performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 19, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tigers Jaw

The duo strips down to acoustic guitar and keyboard for a strikingly intimate set, illuminating their close harmonies that tangle like garlands.

Back To Top