At first thought, the notion of a New Orleans-style brass band based in Minneapolis recalls the famed Jamaican bobsled team. However, similarities between the two quickly disappear once you listen to You Don't Know Me
. After all, the plucky Jamaican team ultimately finished the Olympics in 28th place, while the Jack Brass Band has crafted a truly winning album.
While obviously working in the tradition of native New Orleans bands, the Jack Brass Band should be given credit for adding its own twist to the form. You Don't Know Me features a creative choice of material, including tunes by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Horace Silver and Duke Ellington, in addition to original compositions.
Wonder's "Livin' For The City is an inspired opening number that's given a pumping and roaring workout. Erik Jacobson's forceful sousaphone playing is a particular highlight, seemingly pulling the entire band into focus at precisely the right moment. Jackson's "Shake Your Body Down To The Ground rides along on a driving, rolling and tumbling bed of percussion.
Another high point that's particularly notable considering the strength of compositions surrounding it is trombonist Eric Johnson's "Dumpster Bump, which features a lovely, intricate arrangement that seems to merge brass band with big band. The combination of lyricism and groove is truly impressive.
The members of the Jack Brass Band obviously have a deep love for the music that inspired them. At the same time, they have the good sense not to treat the tradition like a museum piece. By adding their own vision, they help to keep this music vitaland that is the highest tribute it can be paid.
Personnel: Mike Olander: bass drum; Jared Irish: snare drum; Rob Seeger: sousaphone (4-7,10,12,13);
Erik Jacobson: sousaphone (1-3,6,8,9,11,13); Matt Hanzelka: trombone; Eric Johnson:
trombone; Paul Gronert: tenor saxophone; Andy Hakala: trumpet, flugelhorn (2); Zack Lozier:
trumpet; Kelly Rossum: trumpet (3); Gus Sandberg: tenor saxophone (2); Jordan Cohen: