Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mnozil Brass Rocks Out

This is queer on so many levels and angles it’s beyond wonderful. And that’s no theory. Fact.



First, it’s brass instruments, gender-typed as male. Performed by, well, men. Most of them Austrian, you know, from Mitteleuropa. Conservatory-trained but still in touch with folk brass band traditions, which are still very much alive in Central and Eastern Europe through the Balkans, but have become thoroughly bourgie in the USofA and England (British brass bands).

It opens with a fanfare very much in the heroic brass mold. And then it goes all to hell. First there's a trombonist playing Stevie Wonder. That's Zoltan Kiss, from Hungary, strutting and prancing around the stage. An absolute monster of a player, though only one aspect of his monsterhood is on display here.

Then we have two trumpeters and the tuba player doing “Stayin’ Alive” in falsetto. That's the BeeGees, disco, very gay. Male falsetto, well now, that’s got layers and layers. One strain of this vocal style goes back to West Africa, where male falsetto is uber macho, unlike in the (white) West where it’s, well, you know, homo. But not in African-America, where male falsetto retains its West African gender typing.

The trumpeter in the red pants (red pants!) is Thomas Gansch. He appears to be the leader of the group, insofar as a bunch of jokers like this can have a leader. Which, I suspect, is not all that far.

And then we have a tender ballad, sung by two trumpeters, again in falsetto. Notice the hugs and almost-kisses. And the hand-holding.

That ends and they pick up their trumpets and play some high shit. Trumpet high shit is the macho heart of trumpeting in the Western world. It’s also a physical rush for the players. Like zoooomm!

From there we go into “Gimmie Some Lovin’” with Leonard Paul on trombone, starting out with hair-whipping guitar-god moves. Within the overall ecology of the group Paul has an almost Paul Rubens PeeWee Herman persona.

And the little RnB dance moves. When was the last time you saw Grimelthorp or Black Dyke do that?

Just wonderful stuff. If Monty Python had formed a brass band it would have been something like this. And this is only part of their shtick.

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