Hot New Vuvuzela Music!

Posted in Bossa Nova, Instrumental Hip Hop, Jazz by djandresen on July 15, 2010

Hi I’m David, and no, I’m not a DJ, but thanks for asking.  Now that the final whistle has been blown from the pitch of Soccer City Stadium in South Africa, I’m starting to experience some serious World Cup withdrawal.  No, really, it’s gotten pretty bad. This morning I took “penalty kicks” with a plush soccer ball on a goal I constructed out of couch pillows.  At the same time, I was also reliving some of the best and worst moments of the tournament.  Though some of the 2010 World Cup’s most memorable aspects had nothing to do with soccer (Paul the psychic cephalopod is the unofficial champion in my mind), there were plenty of calls and controversies that were sure to spark a debate among any self-respecting football aficionados.

It remains uncertain whether the arguments centered around this tournament will have a beneficial influence on the future of the sport (a future hopefully full of hovering Terminator-esque robot referees, who vaporize floppers without warning and self-destruct when when they happen to make a bad call), but it is clear that we have learned at least one thing from the most recent World Cup: everyone fucking hates vuvuzelas. Unfortunately, the influence of the vuvuzela has somehow moved past the stadium walls, and those seemingly innocent plastic hell-trumpets are giving horned instruments everywhere a bad name.

I’m here to restore your faith in elongated metal tubes, and how better to do that than with the sweet, sweet sounds of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. An 8-piece ensemble from the south side of Chicago, comprised entirely of sons of the jazz legend Phil Cohran, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble started out peddling their music on the streets of the windy city.  They have since moved on to bigger and better things, collaborating with artists like Mos Def and Gorillaz, recording many of their own compositions along the way, and covering some of the tunes that were most influential in their own development as musicians.  Spottie, of the Ensemble’s 2010 Heritage EP, is a beautiful and brassy re-imagining of OutKast’s SpottieOttieDopalicious.  It hits hard from the very beginning, and the driving rhythm stays tight throughout the song.  With so many horns on the track, it’s surprising how each overlying melody is able to carve out a place of its own, while still maintaining a close connection with rest of the ensemble.  Performing together on the streets has certainly given the brothers an incredible feel for their music, and it shows through in the way they are able to skillfully reinterpret challenging classics. Whether Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s music is considered jazz or hip-hop, or something in-between, it sure as hell beats the crap out of listening to vuvuzelas.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Spottie // Heritage EP


It’s unlikely that vuvuzelas will make a repeat appearance at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some other noisemaker hitting it big under the guise of cultural heritage.  Considering Brazil’s uncompromising love of Samba, it isn’t heard to imagine a stadium full of hooligans transformed into an Escola de Samba’s cuíca, ganzá, agogô, and tamborim wielding bateria.  If Samba has already made its way onto the field, as evidenced by the fancy footwork of Brazilian superstars like Ronaldinho, why shouldn’t the fans take part as well?

While Samba is king when it comes to Brazilian music, one of its derivatives, Bossa Nova, is not to be overlooked.  A melding of the Samba spirit with the style of American Jazz, Bossa Nova started to catch on in the mid to late 50’s.  Slanted harmonies, unconventional melodies, and the less-than-polished voices of Bossa Nova singers drew criticism from those who viewed the genre as a cheap imitation of the already well-established Jazz.  Bossa Nova artist João Gilberto sang “Desafinado (Off-Key)” as a tongue-in-cheek response to critics who had quipped that Bossa Nova was nothing more than “music for off-key singers”.  The composer said of Desafinado, “Actually, it’s not an off-key song.  It’s crooked on purpose.  It’s tilted. It could be a very square song, except for the endings of the musical phrases that go down unexpectedly.  It criticizes experts.  The guy next door, he’s off key but he’s in love with this girl, and he can say that to her because loving is more important than being in tune. Some people are always in tune, but they don’t love anybody.”  Take that, T-Pain!  Just because your melodies are as straight as steel cut by precision laser-guided robots, it doesn’t mean you love the bartender any more than João does!

João Gilberto


Bahia Com H//Amoroso

By now, some of you might be wondering where I got the idea to combine Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and Bossa Nova in the same post.  If these posts are anything like my general musical tastes, most of the time I’ll end up combining genres, artists, and songs that wouldn’t normally go together, but I’ll do my best to explain why you should care about the music I write about.  Oh, and Giri, you gave some excellent suggestions for what to listen to while driving, but I’d like to add my own.  Personally, I like driving to the Bourne Supremacy soundtrack, because who doesn’t want to pretend that they’re this guy:

Berlin Foot Chase//The Bourne Supremacy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)


One Response

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  1. credmy comment said, on July 23, 2010 at 3:03 am

    hey are u a dj or somethin?

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