2016 Atlanta Jazz Festival Feature: HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE

by Raheem Karim

Music runs in the family withHYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE, consisting of seven blood brothers from the Southside of Chicago. Music was instilled in them at the tender ages of four and five by their father, jazz trumpeter/band leader Kelan Phil Cohran (EARTH, WIND, & FIRE, CHAKA KHAN, SUN RA). The boys went on to form the PHIL COHRAN YOUTH ENSEMBLE in 1990. The family toured the United States performing the complex original wriYen jazz composi1ons of Cohran and other greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and even the music of classical greats Bach & Beethoven. Although the group’s early musical training encompassed primarily elements of instrumental performance, the brothers were personally being exposed to the music of their own genera1on (hip-hop, rock, reggae to name a few) and absorbed these components into the cosmic jazz style of their father.

By 1999, the band of brothers discon1nued playing with dad in order to find their own sound, growing into the band now known as HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE or HBE.

In 2001 HBE independently cut and released their first LP Sa#n (for which they received an American Author’s Award). Using street performance as way to broaden their audience and hone their now dis1nc1ve sound, they found success at the grass roots level, garnering over 50,000 in sales na1onwide. It was around this 1me that Island DEF JAM offered Hypno1c Brass a feature collabora1on with renowned producer NO ID (mentor to KANYE WEST & GHOSTFACE KILLAH) as well as an accompanying ar1st /in-house band recording contract. The band decided to stay indie and moved to New York City and followed up their debut album with the release of their second LP Jupiter. The album caught the ear of BLUR lead DAMON ALBARN and led to distribu1on in the UK by Albarn’s imprint Honest Jons. By now the musical style of HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE “had blossomed and come into its own.” (Lily Koppel/New York Times).

The group’s sound was best put by Fader Magazine’s Edwin Stats who called the band’s music: “a huge brass bridge of hypno#c polyphony connec#ng the cosmic jazz of Sun Ra’s Arkestra with the urgency of hip-hop and the sweeping emo#onal scale of a Cur#s Mayield blaxploita#on opus.” News of the ensemble’s sound spread throughout the industry, and aeer Emcee/actor Mos Def caught a live HBE’s show, the brothers were asked to join him onstage as part of the MOS DEF BIG BAND (including Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, Casey Benjamin). The group graced many stages around the glove including JAZZSTAGE at LINCOLN CENTER and SHEAPHERDS BUSH in London.

At the same 1me HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE inked an ougihng deal with Dutch denim giant GSTAR RAW, and began their foray into interna1onal touring with a European tour that featured headlining performances at NORTH SEA JAZZ fest, BREAD & BUTTER BARCELONA, and the GOOD THE BAD THE QUEEN Victoria Park.

By 2008 HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE had performed their original tunes in every corner of the world to audiences as big as 110,000 (GLASTONBURY. ROSKILDE) and premiered music at venues around the world including London’s RONNIE SCOTTS, Australia’s SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE and New York City’s CARNEGIE HALL. In 2009, following a tour in Lagos, Africa with Damon Albarn & Africa Express HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE recorded a full LP in London and released it under UK Honest Jons label. One of the songs on the album, “War,” became a featured song on the interna1onal blockbuster movie HUNGER GAMES. HBE signed on with The Agency Group for interna1onal touring and set out to blow away audiences at WOMAD AU: BIG CHILL: NOVARRA JAZZ: BERMUDA JAZZ FEST: PERCPAN in Brazil: POHODA in Czech Republic: COACHELLA: & many others.

The brothers were living in London when they recorded the Gorillaz record with D.Albarn Welcome to Plas#c Beach and joined the “Plas1c Beach 2010 World T” upon its release performing alongside BOBBY WOMACK: MICK JONES from the CLASH: DE LA SOUL: & SNOOP DOGG. HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE gave their signature dose of hard brass to every audience on the four-month interna1onal tour and earned a spot backing up PRINCE at the NEW POWER GENERATION FEST in Denmark the next year, coming personally requested by THE ARTIST himself. Since then HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE has grown into an even newer sound with their latest efforts BulletProof Brass and Fly released by their very own imprint PHEELCO ENTERTAINMENT.

In 2015 the Hypno1c Brass Ensemble signed with KOSSON TALENT to expand their US Touring. They are now gearing up to release a new installment en1tled Bad Boys Of Jazz.

You can catch the HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE live at this year’s 2016 Atlanta Jazz Festival Memorial Day Weekend May 27 – 29. This is free to the public. For more scheduling info please visit www.atlantafestivals.com

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