BLACK TIE BRASS — Mostly Covered (review)

BLACK TIE BRASS — Mostly Covered album cover EP · 2019 · Funk Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
I would imagine more than a few young jazz musicians have noticed Snarky Puppy’s meteoritic rise to success and wondered if that could possibly happen to them too. Most jazz musicians assume that they will earn a modest living at best, and more than likely will be supporting themselves with a day job in another profession. Possibly the Snarky crew is more surprised than anyone that they are now traveling the world and playing the big shows like rock stars. What happened to them wasn’t luck though, not only did they work hard to get where they got, but they also put together a very youthful concoction of pop, dance and jazz that has appeal far outside the jazz world and into the lucrative world of the college party circuit and the international jam band scene. There is probably plenty of room for some more bands in this scene, and Black Tie Brass is one band that may have that potential.

Black Tie are doing their own thing and really don’t sound much like the Puppies, but there is a similar formula at work here, a youthful brass band with jazz chops and dance floor sensibilities. Yes, these guys could be heading ‘straight to the top’. “Mostly Covered” is their second release and is more like an EP than an LP due to its abbreviated length, but there is enough here for anyone to get a good taste for what they do. The album opens with three originals including the fast JBs shuffle of “Night Moves” and the hip-hop flavored “Sunshine”. All of the songs feature punchy horn arrangements and short to the point solos, the overall feel is more like a pop band than a jazz band, but the boys can lay it down when they want to.

The rest of the record finishes out with three well known covers including Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. Trumpeter Randolph Smith plays the melody with a mute, possibly in tribute to Miles’ version of Michael’s “Human Nature”. These guys are still a little green around the gills, but give them time to build their chops with endless gigs and roadwork and this could be the next jazz group to find larger success outside the jazz world without selling out their jazz sensibilities.
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