As the first US signing to Brighton’s own Tru Thoughts label, The Hot 8 Brass Band usually play in Brighton whenever they’re in the UK. They’re part of that long tradition of New Orleans marching bands who play at funerals and public occasions as well as compete against rival marching bands to see who’s the best. They’re a nine piece made up of two trombones, three trumpets, a saxophone, a tuba and a drum kit split up so that one person plays the bass drum while another plays a snare with a cymbal.
They play an infectious mixture of jazz and funk with traditional New Orleans brass sounds. Of course there’s also a healthy does of hip hop and R & B added so they’ve got several bases covered and it’s a seriously danceable groove. Their set is big on crowd participation with a lot of syncopated handclapping, chanting and singalongs to the well known cover versions they include amongst their original songs. So the crowded venue is all too happy to accompany rousing versions of The Temptations’ “Papa was a rolling stone”, Snoop Dogg’s “What’s my name” and the Hot 8 version of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” that was played everywhere and was one of the enduring sounds of the Summer when it was first released.
Their own songs are uptempo and punchy. It’s great to dance to and is unashamed party time music. Their set is loose and funky with all the members showing that they can definitely play as they each get a chance to solo on different songs. The drummers and tuba player are the only non-soloists, with the deep resonance of the tuba taking the place of the bass in a traditional band set up.
After a good 90 minutes of uptempo dance tracks, they encore with a laid back reggae groove that is perfectly suited to the punchy horn riffs and chanted vocals. The sax player ends the set by giving a special mention to their trumpet player Terrel Batiste who uses a wheelchair. He mentions that he lost his legs in a car accident after Hurricane Katrina when he was living outside the State after being evacuated. As a result of this, the band are involved with a web site called “Find our folk” which raises funds for those dispossessed by the hurricane. Apparently one of the first things Mr. Batiste asked when they visited him in hospital was did he still have a place in the band. A measure of how important the music is to them.