Canadian Brass blows in for showWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Canadian Brass and holiday music go together like Santa’s cookies and milk.
“There’s nothing more Christmasy than a high piccolo trumpet,” said Gene Watts, trombone player.
“I think we invented Christmas,” joked Chuck Daellenbach, tuba player. “We’ve been adopted by every parking lot and shopping center in North America as the mainstay of the music they play over the holidays just because that brass sound is so clear and bright and just says ‘Happy holidays.’ ”
The quintet dusted off some seasonal favorites and added a few new arrangements on its disc, “Christmas Tradition,” released in October. The ensemble teamed up with organist Eric Robertson and recorded the music at the Rosedale United Church in Toronto.
“‘Jolly Old St. Nicholas’ on the new record turns out to be just a delightful recording,” Watts said during a phone interview from Toronto. “We were supposed to record it when we did the organ at St. Pat’s in New York, but for some reason it didn’t get on the record. I think it’s one of the highlights of the recording.”
Watts, Daellenbach and French horn player Bernhard Scully will be joined by trumpeters Joe Burgstaller and Manon Lafrance to play a holiday concert at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Valentine Theatre. Tickets are $49, $43 and $33.
Watts, Daellenbach and trumpeter Stuart Laughton, who is still one of the rotating trumpeters featured in the band, formed the Canadian Brass in 1970.
“Chuck was always the more practical one, and I think that’s probably the most important part, and on the creative side, maybe I was a bit more influential,” Watts said. “It’s a good relationship, somehow weak and strong in the right spots.”
That partnership has produced a polished sound and more than 70 recordings in a range of styles—from classical to jazz to pop.
“We’re very lucky we play brass instruments,” Daellenbach said. “Brass instruments are very contemporary in the sense they have the strength to hold their own in this electronic era. I think that’s one of the reasons the sound of brass is so consistently prevalent.”
And the musicians known for their black attire and white tennis shoes still have fun.
“It’s the joy of the performance and the relationship we have with the audience that are just really magical,” Watts said. “It’s hard to walk away from it.”