Hot 8 Brass Band Blows the Roof Off The Stage, September 30

Big Bad Brass Party with The Hot 8 Brass Band

The Stage Miami

Friday, September 30, 2011

Better Than: Kenny G's greatest hits.

There's nothing like a hot horn section.

And last night at The Stage as part of a three-night residency, Hot 8 Brass Band proved that axiom true by turning what could have been an average Friday night loaded with average Friday night music into a steaming sauna of bombastic bayou blowin'.

We arrived around 10 p.m. and found the crowd at The Stage to be in exceptionally high Friday night spirits. Well-manicured adults, drinks in hand, filled the bar and accompanying outside patio -- chatting, laughing, and dancing. Long before there was any action onstage, the crowd was loose and ready to dance, gradually succumbing to the old-school hip-hop and contemporary pop hits pumping out of The Stage's sound system.

Hot 8 Brass Band took the stage with an extended, colorful rendition of "Happy Birthday" -- as the DJ constantly reminded, there were numerous birthdays at The Stage last night -- and then gracefully launched into a nonstop explosion of big band bombast, marching band rhythm (the percussionists got a lot of mileage out of their superminimal bass-and-snare setup) and jazz fluidity.

The Hot 8 was most affecting at its most harmonic. So many wind instruments on stage, blaring away with abandon. The band exuded the cohesive, unified triumph of parades and high school football games. But its members also displayed the lone-wolf precision of master jazz surgeons in their free-and-loose solos.

Requests for a setlist were met with a chuckled reply: "There is no setlist. He just calls 'em out."

Critic's Notebook

Random Detail: The music was hot. But the weather was humid.

Personal Bias:Like we said, we're suckers for a hot horn section.

The Crowd: Respectable folks, girls on a night out, married couples, and a 40-something roasting a doob on the corner.

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