On the Spot by Hot 8 Brass Band
I like horns. A good horn section is often the only thing a band needs to make it into my regular rotation. I consistently go back to the large ensembles of the late 60s / early 70s, like Chicago’s first couple albums, or Blood, Sweat & Tears’ eponymous sophomore record. I’m convinced I will be listening to those albums until I die, and it’s the horns that keep me coming back.
The Hot 8 Brass Band is a new spin on “good horn section”. “Brass” is in their name! It’s the center of the band. But they’re also so much more. The band hails from New Orleans, which has a fantastic history of loving horns itself. The band has been around for over 20 years, and the membership has morphed a little over that time (a few current members were not even born when the band formed in 1995). They blend traditional New Orleans brass sounds with a touch of hip-hop and funk that just totally wins me over.
Be warned, this album is a bit sloppy — it’s hard to record 10+ horn and percussion instruments and mix them well together — but it’s fun and energetic. The above video, for their version of the jazz standard “St. James Infirmary Blues” which was first made famous by Louis Armstrong in 1928, is beautiful, but not indicative of the rest of the album. For an example of the more upbeat songs, give “Working Together” or “Can’t Nobody Get Down” a listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.