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LowDown Brass Band Redefines Their Genre

Written by on November 4, 2021

Chicago-based jazz ensemble LowDown Brass Band returned with Nov. 4 single “Be The One Tonight” off their 2022 album LowDown Nights.

Photos courtesy of the band.

LowDown Brass Band is a constantly-evolving collective of Chicago horn musicians. Currently a seven-piece band consisting of Shane Jonas (trumpet and lead vocals), Andrew Zelm (trombone), Lance Loiselle (sousaphone), Sam Johnson (trumpet), Matt Davis (trombone), John Barbush (drums) and Anthony Evora AKA MC Billa Camp, all the artists come from different musical backgrounds. Some got their start in church, some in academic settings, in family bands and through “the school of hard knocks,” Jonas described.

“That’s one of the things that makes us special,” Jonas said.

The band described their sound as “free brass” — a play on the term “free jazz,” a ‘50s and ‘60s approach to jazz improvisation which broke down conventional stylistic elements. LowDown Brass Band strives to build something new, Jonas explained, to stray from traditional expectations of the brass band genre.

Their Nov. 4 single, “Be The One Tonight,” exemplifies this concept, combining aspects of contemporary hip-hop with conventional brass. The band described “Be The One Tonight” as a collaborative party song, and in its music video, partially shot at Wicker Park cocktail lounge and record shop Dorian’s, the band takes viewers through the city on a limousine ride.

The single, which centers on themes of escapism and night-life communities, is the first release off LowDown Brass Band’s upcoming album LowDown Nights, set for release in February 2022. In an effort to contribute meaningful and refreshing social commentary, the album touches on present-day challenges and the need for societal change. 

“We want people to walk away from the album feeling fulfilled,” Evora said. “We spend a lot of time thinking about how we want to represent ourselves sonically, because we feel it’s important to contribute something of substance to today’s world.”

In addition to serving as a vehicle for social discourse, Jonas and Evora expressed their new album is a means for the band to grow as musicians and people — both collectively and as individuals. Through LowDown Nights, the band aims to expand brass music’s parameters into their contemporary context.

“This album ignores the rules of traditional brass band music, with the intention of redefining what’s possible for us within the genre,” Evora said.

LowDown Brass Band is scheduled to perform at Wicker Park venue Chop Shop on Nov. 13 with support from Justice Hill and Simmer Down DJs. “Be The One Tonight” is available for streaming now, and was selected for Vocalo’s Poised To Break Through playlist. LowDown Nights will be made available for streaming on all platforms on Feb. 3, 2022.

Follow LowDown Brass Band on Instagram and Twitter, and stream “Be The One Tonight” now on Spotify.

By Morgan Ciocca

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