From Chicago’s tough South Side and featuring jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran’s sons, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble have played with artists as diverse as Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu and Damon Albarn, while their stirring, jagged instrumental War featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack. After a decade of making albums, their moment has come and last night’s eight-strong version of their ever-fluctuating line-up featured two trumpeters, two trombonists and a baritone horn seemingly held together by sticky-backed plastic, alongside guitar, bass and drums.
We all know we are in for a treat, and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble go in hard from the start. The Chicago band welcome Cardiff into their family (an accurate label: seven members are the sons of jazz trumpet virtuoso and composer Kelan Phil Cohra) and some of the members are topless and dripping within minutes.
Having toured globally for many years and earned much acclaim for their live performances, HBE don’t disappoint; they make the most beautiful noise that brings the carnival atmosphere in an instant. The stage becomes a majestic blur of jazz, hip hop and funk – the band even weave in influences of afrobeats and world music into an electrifying set.
Collaborations with artists such as Erykah Badu, Prince and Gorillaz have raised the profile of the band, but their solo material has more than enough variety to keep the packed upstairs room hooked in. Their most well known track, War, is a rousing call to arms that pops the lid off Clwb; a musical manifesto for peace and harmony that is even more vibrant in a live setting.