Brass Lightning are a New Orleans-based, soul-brass quintet. At FunkCity.net, we’re all about the horns and love bands that are heavy on that end especially those that make the horns the ‘lead’ centerpiece. In that respect, Brass Lightning belongs in a tight group including Naughty Professor, Moon Hooch, and too Many Zooz.
The group released their Debut Album “Consonance” on July 5th 2021. The 10-track album sways from bombastic and horn-heavy to carefree and lush, and features Mike Dillon (Mike Dillon Band, Garage A Trois) on vibraphone and Percussion, as well as Nick Ellman (Naughty Professor) on baritone saxophone.
“Consonance,” pays homage to the many ghosts of the Crescent City, and to a vision of a brighter future for us all.
Beauty Marks, Pt. 1 is the first of three variants on the Beauty Marks theme, this one starting with a chill flute and trombone intro before the trumpet joins in for the haunting short intro tune.
Cogs starts with a conga intro from Mike Dillon, the famed New Orleans percussion and vibe player. Sure enough, his vibes come in with the bass to lead the melody develop before the horns lay in the final cog in this machine. The bass line is particularly pronounced and the main horn line accompanied by vibes is excellently tight and funky. FLUTE? Evan Oberla takes a turn on a trombone solo intersecting nicely with the rest of the horn section. The horn returns to the head at a more brisk pace right to the end.
Dumplins features a funky percussion-drum intro before a brief horn blast and then the multi-part horn voice carries over the top. This ones slow and slinky like a cruise down Esplanade Avenue. Cyrus Nabipoor takes a greasy ride on the trumpet solo and Dillon amps up the percussive backing funk. This one feels as comfortable as a porch swing on Sunday afternoon.
The Berliner has Ari playing some deep tonal bass clarinet intro with the full band entering with a Spanish sounding feel despite the song title. Evan takes the main solo on trombone with some jazz back beat before Cyrus joins with some trumpet exhortation for all the horns. After a scratchy sounding bridge, Ari plays the second half with a very chill sax lead and the rest of the horns accompany. The Berliner is a very solid jazz-funk tune.
Do What You Please kicks off with a very New Orleans percussive rhythm before the horns join in unison with a the lead melody. This one is noted for the full horn theme with Mike Dillon playing some skip along percussion throughout. After a slow down bridge, Cyrus takes an improv-sounding solo. On this and most of the other tunes, the album has a very “live” feel as if you’re attending a performance. The bass-drums-percussion break again gives the NOLA signature feel. The horns add the header punctuation right to the finish.
Beauty Marks, Pt. 2 has a muted, solemn sound compared with Pt. 1 before coming forward with the richer sound. It’s a short palate cleanser before the next full tune and closes with the muted horns.
Dark Avenues as expected starts with some very low end extended horns that Mike Dillon accentuates with light percussion. The extended opening section sounds potentially ominous. Evan Paydon shines with the bass line and the horns ride over the top with a smooth melody laying the groundwork for Evan and Ari to have an interlocking conversation soon to be joined by Cyrus on trumpet. The break has Evan and Mike slowing the pace for Ari’s tenor solo. The full horn section rejoins for more back and forth chatter leading up to the synchronized ending.
Sunlit has a chill, almost Herb Alpert like opening, that would be excellent relaxing on a beach with a margarita. Cyrus has a beautiful intro and main theme with Ari and Evan laying down the background. Evan takes his turn for more soothing solo licks . There’s a transition to a section that’s right out of a burlesque club with Cyrus on muted trumpet and Mike Dillon on vibes and then it’s right back to the head for a smooth ride to the closeout.
Getaway brings in Nick Ellman from Naughty Professor doubling with Ari on bari sax for some hard hitting low end horns with Evan as the opener. The swirling horn line sounds pauses briefly for some more pounding horn lines. Dillon on percussion with the saxes makes a frisky combination and the multilayered horn line is very effective making an intriguing section. The swirling A section is brought back for the ending as well.
Beauty Marks, Pt. 3 begins with an orchestral rich sound with to build a strong close Pt. 3 album close.
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- Drums – Brendan Bull
- Bass – Evan Paydon
- Trumpet – Cyrus Nabipoor
- Trombone – Evan Oberla
- Woodwinds – Ari Kohn
- Mike Dillon – Vibraphone (Cogs, Sunlit), Percussion (Cogs, Dumplins, Do What You Please, Dark Avenues, Getaway)
- Nick Ellman – Bari Saxophone (Getaway)