Delirium Street Party Brass Brings the Groove to the Jazz Festival’s 9th Avenue Stage


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Earlier this week, Calgary trombonist John Abraham sat down with a gamelan ensemble in Toronto.

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Abraham, who is one of the founders of Delirium Street Party Brass, didn’t really play a trombone. He was playing the gong. Gamelan is the traditional music of the Sundanese, Javanese and Balinese in Indonesia and is played mainly on percussion instruments. This is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the musical fields that a 10-piece marching band would explore with the words “Street Party” in its name. Nevertheless, the wheels began to turn for Abraham.

“It’s completely different from our western music,” he says. “There are different tempos, different sounds, different scale. I listened and played some Indonesian gamelan music and thought to myself, “Can we bring this?”

The jury is still out on whether this particular strain of traditional music can be brought to the party. But it was an intriguing thought.

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For now, gamelan’s music is unlikely to make its way into Delirium Street Party Brass’s regular listings anytime soon and it certainly won’t be part of the act performance on Sunday morning to kick off a day of music. free as part of the Summer Jazz Fest. But the fact that he’s, at least tentatively, on the table as something the group could incorporate into their street party suggests that Abraham and his comrades continue to think outside the box when considering the possibilities of a fanfare of the modern era.

The Delirium Street Party Brass has had quite a bit of revolving door membership since Abraham co-founded the act in 2012. It was inspired by fusionist ensembles such as The Soul Rebels, which mixed the jazz of New Orleans with hip-hop and punk influences – jazz veterans The Youngblood Brass Band of Wisconsin, but also more direct punk and ska groups such as The Clash and No Doubt. Initially, the idea was to minimize the jazz side of things in favor of a more festive atmosphere. A common mantra for the act remains “… we don’t have guitars, we don’t need them.”

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“Guitars have been dominant for 60 years,” says Abraham, laughing. “Maybe it’s time for something new. I would love to try it anyway.

The act stayed true to the sentiment even though it went through various iterations. The group began in 2012 as a mind-blowing mix of New Orleans street jazz and punk ska music from Orange County, Calif., With singer Margo Laing. She sang with the band until 2017. After a year of inactivity, the band regrouped for a wedding in Banff, with singers Kevin Waits and Jace Laing. A year later, the group released the EP I Stay Out Too Late, a collection of covers that included the group’s raucous takes on Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and Fleetwood Mac’s Second Hand News. In 2020, The Delirium Street Party Brass released a two song release to raise funds for mental health awareness that included a cover of Green Day’s Basket Case. Earlier this summer, the band released a new EP, Post Pandemic Brass Party, featuring another eclectic collection of covers, including street-party covers, without guitar, on No Doubt’s Doghouse, Disclosure’s You & Me (well than a more German-influenced version of the techno fanfare MEUTE than the original), Mercy, Mercy, Mercy from jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and, more intriguing, a brassy cover of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls.

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The group has since re-embraced jazz as one of the many elements added to the mix. Many of the musicians of Delirium Street Party Brass, including Abraham, are members or former members of the Mercredi Night Big Band, the 40-year-old ensemble that has hosted many of the city’s top jazz players over the years.

“I fell in love with Calgary jazz again,” says Abraham. “I think Calgary jazz is absolutely fantastic. But there are so many genres that work well in a street party and brass drumming format. You just need to find out what are the elements that make them great and try to translate them into the instrumentation.

“Even though it was the Orange County ska and the New Orleans street brass that were the genesis of the band, it was actually more about what you can do with a party, a style of street, an acoustic horn and targeted instrumentation and make the audience hit. their toes and dance.

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So the style of the act is open enough to accommodate acts like Fat Bottomed Girls, a decidedly unlikely brass act but one that works surprisingly well.

“If you arrange it smart and practice it a lot – there’s a lot of rehearsal in this band, nothing comes together that quickly – it works and it works for the audience and it works for the musicians and that. is unique, ”Abraham said.

Sunday’s lineup will include Abraham, saxophonists Scott Morin and Dana Kaukinen. Saxophonist Erin Elies is also a singer, as is vibraphone Bob Fenske. Jeremy Coates plays the sousaphone and Calgary trumpeter Johnny Summers will replace Delirium regular Allistair Elliott. The ensemble will also include percussionists Gavin Sorochan, Jim Johnson and Dave Lake.

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Earlier this month, the band attended the Brass Fest 2021 at the Ironwood Stage and Grill, where they joined Edmonton’s Brasstactics and Calgary’s Little Brown Jug Brass Band.

Abraham says he hopes Calgary will eventually become the party center for a new era of brass. The talent is definitely there, he says.

“Calgary occupies a unique position with all the horn players from the school programs, all the great amateur orchestras and the Stampede group,” he says. “Calgary is in a position where there are a lot of people who could make this revival of brass music. I’m trying to put together material that we could put into schools or adult programs or whatever so that other people can see it as an exploration and build the genesis of a subgenre or a genre. scene in Calgary.

Delirium Street Party Brass will perform on 9th Avenue Stage of the Summer Jazz Festival (Highline Brewing, 1318 9th Ave SE, # 113) on Sunday, August 22 at 10 a.m. the Little Brown Jug Brass, the Cheryl Fisher Quintet, Augustine Yates, LampLighter, Steve Pineo and Sargeant X Comrade. Visit jazzyyc.com.

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