San Diego’s Euphoria Brass Band has a solid handle on modern brass band music in the Rebirth/Dirty Dozen mold. Maybe that’s because its founders, snare drummer Ron Bocian and guitarist/banjoist David Bandrowski, are ex-residents of New Orleans. On Coast to Coast, the group makes its stylistic leanings clear with a pair of Dirty Dozen tunes, “Blackbird Special” and “Who Took the Happiness Out” as well as a satisfying rendition of “Whoopin’ Blues” that could have come from any of New Orleans’ own distinguished brass bands.
The Euphoria, being a nine-piece group, makes a big sound. The ensemble playing is tight and the soloists have purpose. Jean-Paul “JP” Balmat’s intense baritone sax enlivens tunes like “Lurch” (one of his own compositions) while his clarinet wails above the more traditional “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” which starts off somber and then kicks it up to close out the record. Coast to Coast manages to keep things exuberant and energetic from start to finish while remaining within the bounds of good taste. One possible exception is the vocal on “Buck it Like a Horse,” which spreads on the ostentatious New Orleans lingo a little thick, with uncomfortable results. But that’s just a brief bump in an altogether impressive record.