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Coachella, beyond the main stage: The irresistible force of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

April 9, 2010 |  6:00 am

COACHELLA COUNTDOWN: In the days leading up to the three-day Indio fest that begins April 16, Pop & Hiss gives you the reasons to arrive before the headliners.

Who: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

From: Chicago

Reason to care: Despite a fairly eclectic booking philosophy, Coachella doesn't nod toward jazz and its many hybrid offshoots very often (Medeski Martin and Wood in '99 and St. Germain in 2001 come to mind). Built around eight turbocharged horns and one very busy drummer, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble rose out of busking in El stations to a self-titled debut on Damon Albarn's Honest Jon's Records. Trafficking in a free-flowing blend of jazz, hip-hop and Afrobeat, the group can resemble the world's funkiest marching band one minute, an unhinged New Orleans funeral procession the next. The group's power hasn't gone unnoticed, either -- recent collaborators have included Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Gorillaz, who will be also joined by the Hypnotic Brass ensemble during the festival.

Listen: Looking at the above performance of "War" on "Later With Jools Holland," it's easy to imagine one of the midway's tents accelerating toward escape velocity during Hypnotic Brass Ensemble's set. Built around a crackling funk beat and fluid, militant horn lines tangling with one another, the song serves as an instructive reminder to hydrate often before approaching this raucous group's performance.

Fun Fact: Eight of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble's nine members are sons of jazz trumpeter and AACM co-founder Phil Cochran, who was also a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra. 

What's Next: A new EP called "The Heritage" is due later this month; after Coachella, the band continues a European tour that includes a London date with Gorillaz and the U.K.'s Field Day Festival in July.

-- Chris Barton