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On Two New Albums, A Modern-Minded Brass Band Cuts Loose

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On Two New Albums, A Modern-Minded Brass Band Cuts Loose

Music Reviews

On Two New Albums, A Modern-Minded Brass Band Cuts Loose

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The notion of a brass band playing jazz brings to mind New Orleans.

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SIEGEL: But that sound comes from a thousand miles away in Richmond, Virginia, where a different kind of brass band is at work - The No BS Brass Band. Here's music critic Jim Fusilli with more about the band and their two recent albums.

JIM FUSILLI, BYLINE: Since the late 1970s, the brass band repertoire has morphed into a new sound with the addition of funk, hip-hop and post-bop jazz. The 13-piece No BS Brass Band picks up on and expands that new tradition.

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NO BS BRASS BAND: (Singing) RVA all day. RVA all day.

FUSILLI: That's the title track "RVA All Day."

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BAND: (Singing) RVA all day. RVA all day.

FUSILLI: The album is a party soundtrack with a wild and deep groove and airtight playing by musicians who are conservatory-trained, but at ease when they cut loose.

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FUSILLI: The influence here may be more The JB Horns and postwar big bands, and not so much the New Orleans brass band tradition. But when they take on Michael Jackson's "Thriller," they bring it all together.

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FUSILLI: The second new album is "Fight Song," a tribute to Charles Mingus, the jazz master whose compositions weren't designed for brass bands. Here, No BS reminds us that jazz is at the heart of all brass band music.

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FUSILLI: That's "Haitian Fight Song" by the great Charles Mingus.

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FUSILLI: I like the No BS Brass Band either way, kicking it with funk or making room for a screeching free-jazz solo. The point isn't to redefine what a brass band can do but that's what No BS achieves with their two recent albums. From Richmond, Virginia comes a storm of a brass band that's decided it can do what it wants as long as it does it very, very well.

SIEGEL: Jim Fusilli is the rock and pop critic for The Wall Street Journal.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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