Big 6 Brass Band, the New Orleans group known for covering hit songs like SZA’s “The Weekend” and bringing high-energy performances to every second line, released a first full-length album, Big Six, today (June 24).
The band started in 2017 with six members, trumpeter Eric Gordon, trombonist Lamar Heard, tuba player Clifton Smith, snare drummer Pierre Carter, bass drummer Thaddeus Ramsey and cowbell percussionist Chris Tero, getting their start by playing jam sessions at Josie’s Playhouse. As the band’s popularity grew, and Big 6 was asked to play at more bars around the city, the band increased its size, adding trombonist Dwayne Finne, trumpeters Chris Cotton and Chadrick Honore and saxophonist Utopia Francis.
Although the band now consists of more than six members, the name still fits, albeit in a more communitarian than numerical way. Each of Big 6’s members still hails from the Sixth Ward of New Orleans. Many of its members have found acclaim outside the band as well, including Dwayne Finnie, a former member of Hot 8 Brass Band, a music producer and a teacher for the New Orleans public school system and the GRAMMY-award winning Chadrick Honore also performs with Rebirth Brass Band.
Big 6’s new album features original compositions and combines elements of funk, R&B, hip hop, jazz and classical for an unrelenting, tour-de-force party album. The band exudes confidence and a come-what-may attitude on songs like “The Mind,” the band’s previously released single, and “Haters,” which sports the daring refrain, “I walk past my haters. Why? They keep talking that shhh. I walk past my haters. Why? I got tunnel vision. I walk past my haters. Why? I ain’t got no time. I walk past my haters. Why? I’m trying to get ahead and not behind.”
Though the band’s growing popularity has brought them to bigger venues and local festivals, Big 6 still frequently plays at Josie’s Playhouse, the venue where the band got their start, at 1939 Lapeyrouse St., and according to Heard the shows at Josie’s Playhouse are still the band’s most energetic. “Everybody calls us the radio band,” Finnie said in an interview before the album’s release. “We play everything off the radio.” But, with the release of Big Six and the band’s clear creative voice shining through the whole project, Big 6 Brass Band can proudly say it’s no longer a radio band.