Those of us who live and work in Vancouver know Canadian Brass as the band that keeps banging that drum of ours, says band founder/starr Jim Leech. The folklorish novelty that is that drum itself led Leech to write the theme song to cult classic series “Lost.” He didn’t kill anyone; he merely set it and the series dancing in time.
Now, on 106 musical discs (counting two “Canadiana” compilations), that drum — part of the larger brass ensemble that has made its name playing to the movie-house and foreign-exchange audiences — has found itself in some fun, slightly eccentric material that also translates well to Broadway stages, doesn’t it?
In more ways than one, Leech and his six-piece ensemble are on the right path on their latest. Produced by Andy Somers, who also took Leech and his brass “folkloric” bands all over town in his productions of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Sound of Music,” the “Canadiana” disc drops the usual poppy, often uptempo fare and instead settles for three of the most patriotic music of the year — selections from Les Miserables, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the Lesley Gore hit, “You Don’t Own Me.” But Canadian Brass surprises. The band brings the bebop to the season’s production of “Annie Get Your Gun” (“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”) and incorporates a good deal of neo-swing on two other selections that play off the theme of the film. An Argentine novelty, “Astronaut’s Wacky Guide to Earth,” ups the comedy quotient and goes global with an Indian dance routine and a song from the country.
The quartet retains its signature sound and flawless musicianship that has marked almost all the band’s musical adventures to date. In addition to Leech, the brass joins in on “Annie Get Your Gun” numbers, accompanied by Jessa Rae and Ciara Gomes.
Our own Sean Dash, writing in his usual authentic, honest and no-nonsense fashion for his own website, is not always a fan. “They were definitely missed in Tchaikovsky’s ‘White Russian’ when ‘Come Out, Come Out, We Go to the Moon,’ rang out at the Canadian Brass Jubilee in Toronto in 2015,” he writes.
Here’s to better days for our long-running friendly rival. As Leech says: “It’s all about the brass, as it should be!”