Ok, so contrary to popular belief, brass isn’t exactly a dying sphere of music but it’s definitely a fairly niche area of musical performance and appreciation shall we say. Though any one member of any brass band in the entire country has more talent than most people you’ll hear being played on Radio 1 in an average day put together, brass music is wildly underappreciated and is only just now beginning to catch on a little. Ska bands rely heavily on brass sections to add punch and punctuation to their songs, and you’ll not see a big-band ensemble performing without a brass section in a million years, and that Mark Ronson fellow (even though I’m not much of a fan of his) seems to be able to slap a bit of trumpet onto an existing piece of music and call it a new single. But what of the brass bands that meet on a regular basis to practice renditions of songs old and new? Well, there are still some mightily fine brass bands kicking about in the world, so here are just a few that you may want to check out.
Grimethorpe Colliery Band
This is perhaps one of the most famous brass bands on the entire planet. Going strong since way back in 1917 (aka, the “early years” of the band), the Grimethorpe Colliery Band have been introducing people to the beautiful tones of brass for longer than almost any other brass band you can think of. 1995 saw the classic film Brassed Off immortalise the struggle of miners and the redemption found in the success of a fictional brass band to which the Grimethore Colliery Band provided the soundtrack. The level of this band’s skill and success is evidenced by the fact that they also played at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.
Desford Colliery Band
Hailing from the heart of the Midlands, UK, the Desford Colliery Band have been going in some way, shape, or form since 1898 and maintain a standard of excellence for brass music that remains consistent throughout the years. They were the subjects of the documentary “The Real Brassed Off”, though don’t let this fool you into thinking that this band are anything less than entirely serious about delivering a wide range of styles and atmospheres with their music. Currently on tour in Japan, the Desford Colliery Band will be one of the main bands carrying the torch for brass music for many years to come.
Hot 8 Brass Band
Taking brass in a different direction to the traditional British bands, the New Orleans brass sensation shot to fame with a variety of arrangements of some well-known songs such as Madness’s Ghost Town and Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing. Notorious for their modern style and the incredible energy in their performances, Hot 8 are an incredible driving force in keeping such a traditional style of music alive by infusing their talents with notable songs of music’s past and present.
Hackney Colliery Band
With a motto like “bringing brass and beats to Hackney and beyond since 2008”, you know for a fact that these guys are going to entertain you in the brassiest of ways, with this meant in all definitions of the word. If I tell you that this band have an amazing medley of Prodigy songs and a great rendition of No Diggity, then you may get an idea of this band’s style, though they are a diverse ensemble that can apply their unique, modern sound to pretty much any music they can get their hands on.