Jon Stokes writes previews his upcoming gigs with the Bad Ass Brass band…
I was introduced to the infectious sounds of the New Orleans brass bands whilst sitting on a sweaty coach trekking across Europe for a gig. What I heard blew my mind. It turned out to be the superb Youngblood Brass Band. I had always taken inspiration from New Orleans musicians like Louis Armstrong but this was new and the mix with hip hop and drum and bass seemed to work so perfectly.
As a trombonist, this experience was an eye-opening one and gave me the desire to play the music of New Orleans brass bands. Together with a group of seven other like-minded musicians, we formed Bad Ass Brass in 2008. We wanted to capture the energy and passion of the music but bring our own experiences into the mix. This idea has grown and Bad Ass Brass is now a tight ensemble boasting world class jazz musicians playing their own tunes based on the New Orleans vibe.
We’ve had the pleasure of playing all over the world, including the St Lucia Jazz Festival and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Playing live is where Bad Ass Brass really comes in to being and so this year we thought, for our second album, we’d record it live. It’s being recorded over three London gigs: the first took place in March at the Hideaway in Streatham (see link below), the second is at the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall (April 4th) and the third takes place at The Forge in Camden (May 17th).
These performances will be made even more special by the talents of Brit Award nominee Beth Rowley, who is joining us on vocals for all three dates, following our previous collaboration at the Elgar Room in 2011. Beth brings an extra dimension to the ensemble – her soulful, gospel styling are a perfect match for our edgy compositions.
We’ve lined up a varied programme for these gigs, performing some of our core repertoire alongside new works by Gav Broom, Russell Bennett and myself. Beth will sing some well-loved tracks from her UK top 10 album, Little Dreamer and there will also be a brand new arrangement of Lil’ Liza Jane, in homage to Wynton Marsalis, a lively version of Beautiful Tomorrow and a large-scale rendition of Nobody’s Fault But Mine.
We’re hoping to capture the electric atmosphere of performing live on our new album, which is set for release this Autumn to coincide with our second UK tour. Dates are already confirmed at Kings Place in London, Matt and Phreds in Manchester and the Lescar in Sheffield. This is an exciting year for Bad Ass Brass and we can’t wait to share our music with jazz lovers in the UK and beyond.
Bad Ass Brass are:
Jon Stokes (Trombone/Vocals)
Jean-Paul Gervasoni (Trumpet)
Paul Munday (Trumpet/Flugel)
Gavin Broom (Trumpet/Flugel)
Sam Bullard(Alto/Tenor/Soprano Sax and Flute)
Gemma Moore (Alto/Baritone Sax and Flute)
Mike Poyser (Sousaphone)
Jimmy Norden (Drums)