Slow & Steady Records announces the release of Brass Magic’s third album, Fanfare, which finds the Oakland-based “horns and drums” band building on its foundation of bringing non-traditional grooves, textures and influences into the brass band tradition. More so than previous albums, Fanfare finds Brass Magic in an exploratory phase. “On previous recordings, we primarily wrote ‘danceable’ music,” says drummer Adam Starkopf. “For this recording, we wanted to fuse our roots in creative American music with our brass band instrumentation.”
Fanfare features saxophonists Raffi Garabedian (tenor) and Joseph Hartnett (alto), trumpeters Max Miller-Lorin and Ross Eustis, trombonists Danny Lubin-Laden (founder of Brass Magic) and Rob Ewing, tubist Jonathan Seiberlich, and drummer Adam Starkopf, as well as guest vocalist Kaila Baće.
TRACK LISTING & NOTES:
“Gun of a Son” (by Joseph Hartnett) is a driving, somersaulting piece featuring tenor saxophonist Raffi Garabedian engaged in a fiery call and response with the full ensemble.
“Gray Whale” (by Raffi Garabedian) emerges from the depths of a solo tuba improvisation performed by Jonathan Seiberlich with audio sculpting by recording engineer Jamie Riotto. The tune’s loping groove opens up into Joseph Hartnett’s characteristically breezy alto saxophone solo.
“Journey Around The Lake” (by Danny Lubin-Laden) moves between three different compositional zones. “I wanted the melodies and improvising to be over different feels and structures entirely new for the band,” says Lubin-Laden. The title references Oakland’s Lake Merritt, which members of the group walk, jog and hang out at regularly. The opening horn chorale develops into an exploratory dialogue between saxophonist Raffi Garabedian and drummer Adam Starkopf, evolving into an impassioned dirge. The second half of the composition serves to showcase Max Miller-Loran’s crackling yet lyrical trumpet solo.
“Runabout” is the only cover featured on Fanfare, originally written and recorded by Swedish electro-pop band Little Dragon. “I first heard this song in 2015, and knew it’d be perfect for the band,” says Ross Eustis, who arranged the song. “To me, its structure, groove and melodies simply fit the Brass Magic sound.” The cover features pure-toned vocalist and longtime Brass Magic collaborator Kaila Baće, in addition to some friendly fire from the saxophone section.
“Fanfare” (by Ross Eustis) interweaves two joyous and repetitive riffs, over a fast three-beat rhythm. “I wanted to contribute an original that was high-energy, in your face, that sonically felt like Brass Magic, but was different than anything we’d played before,” says Eustis, who wrote the title track. Eustis’s explosive trumpet solo leads to a sinuous trombone solo from Rob Ewing, before saxophonist Hartnett brings the piece to a joyful yet introspective conclusion.
"For My Drummers" (by Adam Starkopf) is an homage to the great drummers who’ve influenced the band. “I wanted to relate what I feel when I listen to my heroes,” says Starkopf. "Not limited to the drumming ‘greats,’ many of our musical peers are heroes as well, serving as inspirations to us all." The swinging mixed-meter introductory melody opens up into a soulful extended solo statement from trombonist Danny Lubin-Laden and an understated yet melodic drum solo from Starkopf.
"Song For Ghost Ship" (by Adam Starkopf) was written shortly after the tragic "Ghost Ship" warehouse fire in Oakland. “I felt there needed to be a song that could pay reverence to the young artists who lost their lives pursuing their passions,” says Starkopf. “I wanted their collective spirit to live forever. This song is for all of those affected by the fire.” The somber march opens into a powerfully emotional trumpet statement from Miller-Loran.