Album review: Youngblood Brass Band, Pax Volumi (Truthoughts)


There appears to be a bit of a brass band boom going on right now. Along with New Orleans groups such as the Soul Rebels and the Hot 8 (and the UK-based Hackney Colliery Band), the Youngbloods - who began as a school band in their home town of Oregon, Wisconsin - mix sonically adventurous jazz with funk, soul, and hip-hop.

But this fourth album – their first for five years – is a game of two halves. The raps at the beginning sound lame beyond words, leaving the instruments compressed into a reduced frequency range. But start at track six, the cryptically titled "E la e" and the arrangements (with another half-dozen tracks still to go) start to come alive, recalling Craig Harris or – the ultimate accolade – Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy.