The Hot 8 Brass Band – Vicennial: 20 Years of The Hot 8 Brass Band | Album Review | Top of the World
Words by Garth Cartwright
New Orleans’ finest blow-hards
The mighty Hot 8 Brass Band have been blowing the greasiest funk- and rap-influenced street brass sound for 20 years now. In that time they have lost various members to the curse of being poor and black in New Orleans – one was shot by police, another shot by a gang (aiming for his stepson), and hypertension and other diseases have led to the premature deaths of other members. Yet the core of The Hot 8 is strong and capable of drawing on talented local youths; they keep the band’s sound fresh.
Vicennial brings together a selection of tunes the band have previously recorded and a couple of new numbers, so as to create an anniversary album of sorts. The band plays with an energy and verve few can match. They started as a marching brass band for parades and funerals and their sound continues to have a loose, streetwise groove to it. They can play slow and mournful and then crank it up to party tempo. On the new recordings here there’s a brass reinterpretation of The Temptations’ taut soul anthem ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’, which The Hot 8 keep suitably intense, and the lovely, slow gospel song ‘We Shall Walk Through the Streets of the City’.