I spent a good chunk of the summer reveling in the rollick of Ray Anderson’s Pocket Brass Band. The virtuoso trombonist helms a four piece outfit that adds sousaphone, trumpet and drums to his own horn, and on Sweet Chicago Suite they get raucous with some simple structures. There’s plenty of New Orleans in the music – the chatter of polyphony spends a good time in the sun. Brass ensembles can really smack you around when they hit the red zone.
They can also stroke you a bit. Joe Fiedler’s Sackbut is a brass-only group that blends three trombones and a tuba. There’s plenty of oomph in their debut disc, but rather than go for Crescent City parade vibe, they put harmony and swoop up front. With slide maestros Josh Roseman and Ryan Keberle uniting with bottom man Marcus Rojas, the whirl of sound is reminiscent of the World Saxophone Quartet’s Revue rather than the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s sublime stomp. This makes the program a bit meatier. There’s syncopation in “The Crab,” and blues motifs occasionally arise, but from the opening section of “Don Pullen” to the eerie glide of Sun Ra’s “A Call For All Demons” Fiedler make a case for smooth alignment rather than R&B shouting.
A stalwart of the NYC salsa scene, the leader is capable of virtuosic maneuvers. On the new disc, a graceful percolation defines one of Fiedler’s favorite tunes from that scene, Willie Colon’s “Calle Luna, Calle Sol.” Rojas keeps the band bouncing and his partners go on a perpetual romp. Previous trio albums like Sacred Chrome Orb have underscored Fiedler’s agility and chops, and both are displayed here. The moves on “Mixed Bag” and “Blabber And Smoke” are thoroughly impressive. But ultimately it’s coordination that sits highest on Fiedler’s agenda. Mo