The Heavyweights Brass Band, This City (Independent)

The Heavyweights Brass Band wisely chose to record their third full-length record, This City, in New Orleans. Comprised of John Pittman (trumpet), Chris Butcher (trombone), Paul Metcalfe (tenor saxophone), Tom Richards (tuba) and Lowell Whitty (drums and percussion), the Heavyweights Brass Band delivers a solid recording that emphasizes the band’s connection to the Crescent City—a city that has obviously played a major role in developing the band’s sound.

From the opening “Hands Down Lo’” which features locals Eugene Grant (vocals, congas and trumpet), Joe Lastie (bass drum) and Ashlin Parker (trumpet) one can tell that although the Heavyweights Brass Band hails from Toronto, they draw on a deep well of inspiration from New Orleans and its brass band culture. Richards’ opening tuba riffs and Grant’s call out for “all aboard” let you know that this band is indeed taking it to the streets. The interplay between the horns sets the stage for a classic-sounding brass band jam. In typical call and response fashion, no one wants to be outdone and it brings out some stellar playing from everyone.

Things slow down with the first of two covers. Stevie Wonder’s “Tell Me Something Good” allows the band to show off some polished chops before the tone changes to a more modern R&B feel with “Two Foot Ticket.” Richards and Whitty are the driving force as they kick off “I’ve Got Time For You,” with the band finding terra firma in a return to a more classic brass band sound. “Rosco’s Big Hit” is anchored by Richards on tuba and that big fat wave of sound creates a deep funky groove that Pittman, Butcher and Metcalfe can surf as they swing out. “Dance out on the Corner” features the legendary Roger Lewis on baritone sax, the addition of whom propels things into overdrive. The band is hitting on all cylinders and everyone really shines throughout the track. For good measure, Marla Dixon gets a chance to join in the fun on vocals. Steve Earle’s paean to New Orleans, “This City,” closes things out and is highlighted by a beautiful vocal performance from Jackie Richardson and nice slide guitar playing from Kevin Brett.

In a unanimous decision, the Heavyweights Brass Band delivers a feel good party record that captures the spirit and exuberance of New Orleans.

—Christopher Weddle