Coming to Beirut straight from their performance at Wednesday night’s Brit Awards, The Hot 8 Brass Band is rearing to go for its Liban Jazz concert at MusicHall Sunday.
The Grammy-nominated New Orleans-based group gave a reportedly stellar version of George Ezra’s “Shotgun,” who collaborated with the band on stage.
“Unforgettable, that’s what I would say,” Hot 8 trumpeter Alveres “B.I.G Al” Huntley, who carries not one but two mouthpieces in his pockets at all times, told The Daily Star. “That’s a time that’s imbedded in your memory bank. It was our first time doing the Brit Awards as well and it was just amazing, an unforgettable experience.”
Founded in 1995, the band formed when the Looney Tunes Brass Band and the High Steppers Brass Band merged.
“The guys were in high school together and ... grew up together,” Huntley explained.
“With all the different personalities and opinions ... of course we all have disagreements and everything but it’s never a serious problem.
“The love is there and that means you compromise and consider everyone else’s feelings,” he added. “It’s definitely translated into our music, you can feel it, and its definitely good vibes that comes out through our horns and performances.”
The band’s positive outlook defies its several setbacks including four members’ violent deaths (three of them murdered), their displacement by Hurricane Katrina, and a trumpet player losing his legs in a car accident.
“You start over from square one. That’s how it affected the band,” Huntely recalled. “You never get past it. You just learn to deal with it. We still deal with it every day, every time we play specific songs.
“I lost everything [in Hurricane Katrina]. I don’t even have a baby picture,” he continued.
“With these kinds of things, you kind of put a limit on what you put out there, because you’re still there with it and people still ask questions and want to know.”
The band’s sound has evolved over the years, blending various styles with traditional New Orleans street music.
“A lot of our music was stimulated and came from the streets and doing the marching parades in New Orleans,” Huntley said.
“From then to now, it’s a bit more fusion ... We’re mixing in more R&B, Blues, Jazz ... Now you can catch us playing any genre of music ... to keep us advancing and growing and not being selfish as artists, playing what we want to play.
“We are entertaining the people so the people do have some say at the end of the day. I can’t make you like what I like,” he joked.
“What we do isn’t really jazz. It’s a different style. We may have songs that come from a funky groove and a bass line with individual interpretations as the melody.
“Then we have march-style songs played in a more traditional style.
“Our music is feel-good music because people feel good when they hear it and can relate to it,” he added. “We don’t want to just be labeled as a brass band or a funk band because we do all of that.”
The band just released its third studio album, “Take Cover.”
“We’re excited and pumped up about it. It’s all covers. It’s not something that we were particularly fond of but for some reason our fans love the way that we cover tunes,” Huntley said. “It’s oft they say that we did the song better than the first one, which is something that you would never hear us say because we just pay so much homage to the people that originally did it. It’s why we’re fans of the music that we cover.”
Huntley said Sunday’s MusicHall show would be high-energy, brimming with New Orleans good times.
“We’ll have stuff from every album. We’re giving everything,” he smiled. “We’ll have a festival vibe, call and response, interaction but we’ll also slow it doesn’t to change the mood and setting to give a different part of our music and culture.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright © 2021, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.