Eight brothers from the south side of Chicago join their father Kelan Philip Cohran, soon to be 85, on this new self-titled release out on Honest Jons later this month.
“With other brothers and sisters who’re professional musicians and mothers who are singers, the lives of these siblings – who together make up The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – have been shaped by an extraordinary musical upbringing. Their father has roots running back to Mississippi, spending time in the musical hothouse of 1940s St Louis, and playing a seminal role with Sun Ra in Chicago in the 1950s.
“While growing up, their father’s work as a musical activist and educator led to the creation of a space called the Sun Ark in a warehouse behind the family home above a furniture shop. At night when they went to bed the children would hear their father rehearsing with his band the Circle Of Sound. They got up at 6am for several hours’ music practice before going to school and became a central part of their father’s Youth Ensemble from an early age.
“’At night we used to sneak under the covers and listen to NWA and Public Enemy. Ice Cube and Eazy-E were our heroes.’” They formed their first group, GWC (Gangsters With A Curfew), while still very young, which later morphed into Wolf Pak (Wolves on the Lookout for Pigs And Klansmen). ‘We used to hum. We used to all hum the same way that we play our horns now, everybody on beat boxes or making harmonies, and we’d pass the mike around and rap.’
“By the end of the nineties, they brought together their musicianship, their jazz roots and their hip-hop sensibility, and made a living busking on the streets of Chicago. Crucial to the mix was their burgeoning skills as composers, which meant the music they played really was their own. Eventually the group moved to New York City and established a name for themselves through relentless gigging and playing shows with Mos Def and Erykah Badu.”
Watch a preview of the new album with Kelan Philip Cohran – out 21st May 2012
Listen to opening track Cuernevaca recorded live as part of Another Honest Jon’s Chop Up at the Fiesta des Suds, Marseille, 30 October 2011.