Here come the Heavyweights

We'll be back at Lula Lounge again next Thursday night, March 29 for our second of four TD Discovery Series Special Projects presentations. On tap next week: the release party for the Heavyweights Brass Band's new recording called This City.

The Heavyweights have been on our stages before - at Festival time and for a previous Special Project - and I'll be up front with my bias: I think they're a ton of fun. What started as a bunch of friends playing together at venues like Painted Lady (where I first saw them) has grown into a mainstay on the Canadian jazz scene. They keep getting tighter as an ensemble, even with occasional personnel changes; their take on the New Orleans brass band tradition has entertained audiences all across the country.

For This City, the band traveled to New Orleans to record with some of the city's traditional jazz heavyweights, along with Toronto special guests Kevin Breit and Jackie Richardson. To me, the new music sounds revitalized, as if everyone has kicked it up a notch; being in studio in New Orleans, with New Orleans musicians, no doubt served as inspiration for all involved. At the same time, the sound is very much their own, reflective of the many musical influences at play in their home town. Nice writing, solid playing, and exciting solos.

When evaluating the Heavyweights submission, the Special Projects panel was moved by the music, but they were also impressed with the group's community outreach. Opening up next Thursday's show will be a group called Street Brass, a community-based project, led by Heavyweights co-founder and trombonist Chris Butcher, that is open to any horn player from high school to professional level. The group learns and performs brass band music from New Orleans, Brazil and Latin American carnivals; since forming in 2013 they've performed at community festivals and events throughout Toronto. Just as the Heavyweights, in their performances, create high energy and welcoming events, so too does an ensemble like Street Brass: everyone is welcome, and the goal is to have a great time. Kudos to Chris for leading the ensemble, and to Street Brass founders Alex Bordokas and Uma Nota Cultura.

Join us at Lula Lounge at next Thursday night to celebrate This City, the new recording from the Heavyweights Brass Band. Street Brass will kick things off at 7 pm; joining the Heavyweights are special guests Kevin Breit and Jackie Richardson. It's going to be a party.

Complete concert information is available on our website.


P.S. - Congratulations to everyone nominated for this weekend's JUNO Awards. Lots of great music across many categories - the juries have their work cut out for them. Good luck to all and, if you're attending, have a blast!

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