The Brass Funkeys

Ipswich Jazz Festival 2019
St Peter’s by the Waterfront

The Brass Funkeys are a London-based group of young energetic musicians playing old school New Orleans jazz with a modern twist. Six brass (2 x trombones, 2 x trumpets, saxophone, sousaphone), drums and percussionist make up this brassy jazz band.

Their opening track was a burst of sounds with Latino party feel. So many notes all playing within the short space of time of a beat that it would be hard to think it would make music. However, music these guys certainly made and audience dancing in the aisles was testament to that.

They themselves couldn’t keep still and were dancing with the instruments – the sousaphone player having a great grove going on while the huge instrument was wrapped around him

Set in a church, which is now a venue for music and the arts, the sound was superb for a high-ceilinged venue and the unique setting made it a wonderful experience. The lower tones were not lost and the high tones were clear, certainly from where I was sitting… and dancing.

The guys played a variety of tracks and there was enough light and shade through the performance, there was plenty of lively tracks that made you feel you were in a South American carnival, and I almost expected the carnival girls to appear, they wouldn’t have been out of place. Interspersed with more relaxed tracks and others which were sit back and sway. The Brass Funkeys played a track that was number 4 in the charts in 1953, a Little Mix cover and a track influenced by 70s cop shows… all with the Brass Funkeys twist.

There was certainly improvisation going on, however there was the song’s foundation to keep it all together. This is what would make this band so exciting to follow – it really would be different each time, yet you’d recognise the songs. Zero chance of getting bored with such a dynamic and fluid way to perform.

They all had their chance of showcasing their own talents and you could feel the space was given generously by the other members, it created a good vibe. The sax player was the subtle lead with the drummer keeping it all together with the beat.

The energy of the group was palpable and the electricity fantastic, I can’t say that I have much experience in this kind of jazz, however considering I had a smile on my face all night, danced quite a bit and now have their CD in the car, you could say I loved it. It was a thrill and a joy.

Overall I feel they need more deeper tones to their sound, there is not quite enough low sounding/bass instruments to support the sousaphone. This would quite possible add another dimension to their sound.

The audience reactions are always fun to watch and there was a variety in the building this night. Some were quite serious, others you could tell were loving it and had smiles on their faces, we had the foot tappers, the hand clappers and plenty were up and dancing. There was a standing ovation when they guys finished and an encore which included When The Saints Go Marching In – of course with the Brass Funkey’s twist.

How do we describe this band? A large number of passion-driven wonderful sounds coming together to inspire the mind to make new neural connections and the body to get off the chair and start moving. Will that do?

Ipswich Jazz Festival 2019, once again has been a success with sold out performances.