Hot 8 Brass Band - Vicennial - 20 Years Of The Hot 8 Brass Band (2LP/CD, Tru Thoughts, 2015)
Hot 8 Brass Band - Vicennial - 20 Years Of The Hot 8 Brass Band
(2LP/CD/Digital) Tru Thoughts TRUCD/LP318, 2015-10-23
01. What's My Name? (Rock With The Hot 8) (20th Anniversary Version) 06:14
02. Sexual Healing (20th Anniversary Version) 02:38 video
03. Get Up (20th Anniversary Version) 06:15
04. Royal Garden Blues 04:18
05. Papa Was A Rolling Stone 05:20
06. Rasta Funk (20th Anniversary Version) 05:35
07. Take It To The House (20th Anniversary Version) 06:34
08. It's Real (20th Anniversary Version) 05:52
09. Just My Imagination 06:07
10. We Shall Walk Through The Streets Of The City 03:53
11. New Orleans, After The City (20th Anniversary Version) 05:47
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Press Release :
New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band toast their 20th Anniversary in typically roof-raising style, celebrating this incredibly hard-won milestone with a series of releases and live dates (see overleaf). At the centre is the album, ‘Vicennial – 20 Years Of The Hot 8 Brass Band’, a mix of brand new tracks and newly recorded 20th Anniversary Versions of Hot 8 classics which finds the band on the form of their lives. The album is preceded by the “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”/“We Shall Walk Through The Streets Of The City” single (9th October); the first taste of new Hot 8 music in two years, an upfront stream of “Papa…” has had incredible reactions and thousands of hits, adding to support from Chris Hawkins and Craig Charles (BBC 6Music), Edward Adoo (BBC/Mi-Soul) and more, while “We Shall Walk…” has been playlisted on Jazz FM.
Across three albums - 2007’s ‘Rock With The Hot 8’, 2012’s Grammy-nominated ‘The Life & Times Of…’ and 2013’s ‘Tombstone’ – with a host of standout singles, including their iconic version of “Sexual Healing” alongside several other covers and equally impressive originals, Hot 8 Brass Band have told the story of their lives and their city like only they can.
One of the great New Orleans acts, Hot 8 have pushed on through a barely imaginable series of trials. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the separate deaths of four of their band members (trumpeter Jacob Johnson, drummer Dinerral Shavers, and trombonists Demond Dorsey and Joseph “Shotgun Joe” Williams) and the horror of trumpeter Terrell “Burger” Batiste losing his legs in a car crash, conspired to test these men almost to breaking point. They honour their fallen friends and help to work towards the future of their community by putting their energies into positive projects at home as well as touring as much as they can. They march together and they play their music - a rambunctious yet elegant and super-tight mix of jazz, funk and hip hop – not merely as though, but because their lives depend on it.
Transcending genres and trends, Hot 8’s party rocking sound and indomitable energy have become renowned across the world, with an ever-growing fanbase and media love across the spectrum from The Guardian and The Sunday Times Magazine to Esquire, BBC Radio 2 to 1Xtra, and beyond. The band and their story featured in Spike Lee’s New Orleans documentaries When The Levee Broke and The Creek Don’t Rise, as well as David Simon’s hit HBO series Treme, and they have performed with artists as diverse as The Dixie Cups, Blind Boys of Alabama, Lauryn Hill and Mos Def. One of a very few brass bands who pour as much charisma, training and talent into their vocals as their horn playing, their sound packs an almighty connective power that remains uniquely Hot 8 no matter what influences they draw on.
This album exemplifies Hot 8’s ability to honour and promote their city’s (and their own) legacy while pushing on to create a new tradition. Nowhere is this more evident that in the transition from the raucous, crowd-pleasing hip hop cut “Get Up” – one of their originals, written by Shavers, on which Big Al busts a whole new rap for this occasion – into the Big Easy standard “Royal Garden Blues”, a traditional instrumental that rolls and bubbles with vintage, Technicolor charm. “Rasta Funk” brings reggae to the streets of New Orleans; while “Take It To The House” is an impassioned rallying cry developed during the Second Line parades that followed the death of Johnson, as raw and affecting now as when it was first played almost 20 years ago; and “New Orleans (After The City)” is an ode and a commitment to their beloved hometown.
The “Vicennial…” sessions saw Hot 8 welcoming former members back into the studio as well as featuring performances by relatives of their deceased bandmates. The beautifully buoyant “We Shall Walk Through The Streets Of The City”, recorded in tribute to Joseph Williams, features his grandmother, Mrs. Betty Ann WIlliams, on lead vocals, her son (Joseph’s uncle) Herlin Riley on drums and Joseph’s brother Arian Macklin on tuba. “When we talked to Betty she said, ‘I’m not singing “I’ll Fly Away” ‘cause everybody do that.’ She suggested this one, so we rolled with it”, recalls band leader and tuba player Bennie Pete, adding: “Every second in that studio was magical and very emotional for everyone… I'm sure it is a moment no-one will ever let go”. Across the album, which has the feeling and momentum of a live set, these vibrant recordings capture the spirit of a community and make a statement of the band’s longevity, vitality and constant progress.