Tag Archives: jazz

Bra Hugh

At 78, Hugh Masekela has succumbed to prostate cancer. I remember the last time I saw him, a few years ago at Hackney Empire – perhaps in 2013 or 2014. He had to sit for most of the performance, but his brilliance, rhythm, humour and sparkle was undimmed. I loved the music (obviously) but it was the riffing in between the songs that I adored. He told anecdotes – funny, raunchy, moving, political – and you could imagine him in his heyday.

He was a rare talent and a principled fighter. Rest well, Bra Hugh.

Here is a link to his last interview.

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Vicennial Hot 8

Yes, it’s that time again. I’m going to post about Hot 8 Brass Band. They’re touring right now, supporting their Vicennial album and 20 years of great music. You can listen to 30 second snippets of their new album, which has remastered favourites like Sexual Healing and some good new tunes, here.

Or if you’re really lucky, you can catch them tomorrow night in Cambridge, supported by the effervescent, lively and irrepressible Brass Funkeys, who I heard for the first time earlier this year at a brass band bash at Shoreditch Blues Kitchen.

So much good music.

So much work the next morning. 😦

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Brass Funkeys

I had the unexpected pleasure of attending the Brassroots Brass Bands Bash  in Shoreditch on 4 May, the Bank Holiday.

Unexpected, because I didn’t realise it was an annual thing. Or a thing.

And a pleasure because there is nothing like a good brass band with attitude. My favourites were the Brass Funkeys, the youngest band of the night among the more established acts, with a disruptive spirit and joyfulness that was irresistible. They played a lot of their own music, which was really cool; some of the more established bands stuck mostly to covers. Their song #1 and their cover of the Jungle Book classic “I Wanna Be Like You” are my favourite songs this year so far.

Another highlight was Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, who led a conga line from Shoreditch Church into The Blues Kitchen for the festival proper. It was such a delicious pleasure to have them cover No Limit, my favourite song off my first cassette. Now there’s a word I haven’t typed in a long time. There’s no video of that, but here’s them covering Ace of Bace’s All That She Wants, my favourite song off the….er…second cassette I ever bought.

Feeling old. But it was such a great night. Definitely going back next year!

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Three for Monday

I’d love to see these artists live (in fact I will be seeing Hot 8 next month), but I’d settle for their albums:

OneLadysmith Ladysmith Black Mambazo need no introduction. Their music soothes and unsettles me at the same time. They make me homesick for a time long past, at home with my family before my father’s passing, in Malawi – for the beauty and security of a time of my life shot through with laughter and love that I took for granted and will always treasure.

Their new album, Always With Us, is dedicated to the memory of Nellie Shabalala, wife of Joseph Shabalala, the band co-founder. An American news station did an interview with the band, with songs.

Two Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I haven’t been able to shake their new song Retreat out of my head for weeks. It’s an unapologetic, fierce song that turns the usual “Come hither” soul song on its head. Their new album, Give the People What They Want, is a sort of soul-funk homage. Sharon Jones was recently diagnosed with cancer, which pushed the alblum launch back, which might be why they opted for a cartoon video for Retreat, but I have to say I would have preferred to see her in it.

Three Hot 8 Brass Band. I blog about them all the time, so I won’t go on. But here’s their cover of Rastafunk.


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