The Heavyweights Brass Band Brasstronomical
Published Feb 28, 2014Not since the Shuffle Demons bopped into the limelight has a young Toronto jazz band had as much impact on the local scene as the Heavyweights Brass Band. Their 2011 debut album and entertaining live show marked them as contenders, and this strong second effort will cement their rep. Five horn players and a drummer make for a rich, full sound, and they're stylistically varied.
The opening title track showcases their chops as funky players, and a Big Easy influence shines through on the classic "St. James Infirmary Blues" (featuring Rob Teehan on vocals) and the original "Booze Hounds," featuring cool vocals by local R&B legend Jay Douglas. That's an album highlight, as is "Misterioso," featuring Jane Bunnett (something of a group mentor) and Giovanni Hidalgo. They also cover rock and pop hits, including Rush's "YYZ" and R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." "YYZ" is a surging triumph, but the latter comes across as a mite gimmicky and superfluous.
Luckily, the group's original compositions (by Teehan, Paul Metcalfe, Chris Butcher, and Jonathan Challoner) are strong enough to carry the weight. The album closes out with two tunes recorded live at Toronto's Koerner Hall, and they confirm this band especially shines in a live setting. (Lula Lounge)