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The New Cool: Heavyweights Brass Band hits hard with new album

"Stir Crazy," the new album from Toronto's Heavyweights Brass Band, debuts Nov. 5.
Album cover art used with kind permission of the band
Orange Grove Publicity
"Stir Crazy," the new album from Toronto's Heavyweights Brass Band, debuts Nov. 5.

Hot enough to melt the snow in their hometown of Toronto, the Heavyweights Brass Band serves up their scorching fourth album Nov. 5. Stir Crazy was recorded in a three-day marathon session just as the pandemic quarantines shut down live music in March 2020. The band's intense New Orleans-style brass funk embodies our need to burst back into the world and get down with friends.

The beat rules, and the Heavyweights Brass Band features a familiar name behind the second line drum beat. Lowell Whitty is the brother of saxophonist Leland Whitty of Toronto’s hip-hop-leaning quartet BadBadNotGood.

Tuba player Tom Richards creates a solid bassline base for the wailing horns of saxophonist Paul Metcalfe, trumpeter John Pittman and powerful trombonist R.J. Satchithananthan.

Clever breaks from tradition, the HBB take their time on a cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” with Satchithananthan’s trombone up front.

Metcalfe’s saxophone trades with trombone through the Amy Winehouse hit “Rehab” in one of the band’s more traditional jazz moods. Joel Visentin of JV’s Boogaloo Squad guests on this song and album opener “Sweet Pauly’s Boogaloo.”

“Feel Like Makin’ Love” is the Roberta Flack soul song, not the Bad Company power ballad. HBB blend moments of swing and pulsing street-band funk into this soulful groover.

Stir Crazy shows off a variety of brass and beats on a bouncy ska rhythm with “Skank You Very Much,” dramatic Afro-disco on “Manipogo’s Revenge,” and sunny funk of “Georgia Pine.”

The title song has been released as the first single, with a video to introduce new fans to the HBB. It’s a rollicking, up-tempo rocker with Whitty’s furious second line beat fueling the tuba’s low end and tightly arranged trombone, trumpet and sax.

The first solo is a growling blues moment for Metcalfe’s saxophone, followed by Pittman’s sharp trumpet runs, and a battle between the two returns us to the ensemble theme.

“Stir Crazy” is sure to have you marching and shaking your caboose, and accentuates any party from crowds to solo headphone bliss.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.