Cole Brocksom's blog

The Intersection: Jazz and Hip Hop

“What’s the difference between me and you?” the three MCs from the T.Dot Bangerz Brass band ask, performing a bombastic cypher of Dr. Dre’s “What’s the Difference.” The difference between these three rappers and most modern hip-hop artists is that they’re backed by a full brass band complete with trumpets, saxophones, trombone, drums and even a sousaphone.

Ghost-Note and Rinsethealgorithm at the Horseshoe Tavern

“Don’t clap yet, it might suck” band leader Rich Brown said as the audience applauded his entrance to the stage at the Horseshoe Tavern Wednesday night.

Brown dexterously picked up his six-string bass guitar and looked back out to the house.

“It won’t suck,” he said with a knowing smile.

It didn’t.

Makaya McCraven at Adelaide Hall

At times cool and easy, others intense and urgent, but always tightily controlled, Makaya McCraven’s performance on Saturday night was one of contrasts. Even when he and the band were playing full-tilt and things seemed just at the brink of going off the rails and falling to pieces, the band effortlessly brought it back at the drop of a hat. McCraven had his hands on the wheel the whole time.

Highlights from Friday Night Live at the ROM

The imposing skeleton of the futalognkosaurus greets the guests in the main hall of the Royal Ontario Museum after they’ve had their tickets taken for Friday Night Live, the first night of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. In front of the massive display are propped big wooden letters lined with faintly glowing light bulbs that spell out the theme for the evening: MARDI GRAS. Now, however, instead of the bright natural light that shines through the hall in the daytime, the bones are lit by the pulsing purple nightclub lights coming from Currelly Gallery.

Big Smoke Brass Band Brings the Heat on the Street

Only hours before the June 21 opening festivities of this year's TD Toronto Jazz Festival, the Big Smoke Brass Band is out busking on Yonge Street. Escaping the first-day-of-summer heat by playing in the shade of the Aura building, the Big Smoke Brass offer their powerful, high-energy take on the classic hits and original compositions that fill their repertoire.The band closes off their fourth set for the day with a medley they call “MJ.”

“I think there’s four songs in there,” said Max Forster, a friend of the band who was subbing in on trumpet for the day. “It’s a long one.”

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