Playing at the Voodoo Rooms on a Sunday night were nine guys from Chicago known as the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, brothers from the south side of Chicago, they took to the stage . The Bad Boys of Jazz, managed to get the room in a full flow of energy within minutes of being in the venue. While it was great to see them so intimately in the back room of Edinburgh’s great cocktail venue, there was the distinct feeling that this band’s gig did not perhaps get a suitable amount of marketing. The crowd was sparse, which was a distinct perk for the dancers among us.
Having previously seen these musicians perform with Damon Albarn at London’s Barbican, it was difficult to compare to their previous performances, but the common ground was their energy and natural sense of rhythm. For talented musicians of this stature they, warranted a larger crowd. However, the fans that were present were fans in the truest sense, as there was dancing aplenty.
HBE hail from an extraordinary musical family. Together they have toured throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America playing with everyone from Prince, Mos Def, Mick Jones (The Clash) and Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz). They’ve performed at Coachella, WOMAD AU, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. To see them here, in Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms almost seems unlikely to the point of surrealism.
With a musical style that ranges from hip-hop to jazz, with elements of calypso and Balkan, it is easy to fathom that HBE would have such a vivacious fan-base, one that I believe were chanting H Y P N O T I C as they were leaving this bar on a Sunday eve. With so many genres floating around the talents of these nine, it is anticipated that they will continue to collaborate with an array of artists, joining previous names such as Ghostface Killah and Femi Kuti. Injecting energy into their audience, it also comes as no surprise that even those without knowledge of their work are more than satisfied. These Chicago boys will be on the scene for quite some time yet.