The Bank Street Bonbons are not your grandparents’ Glenn Miller-style big band. They fuse afrobeat, hip hop, and funk flavours to get one spicy hot hash of tightly executed, boisterous grooves with irresistible forward momentum. Crowding just about any stage they appear on –and they’ve been on some big ones already– this eight piece ensemble is as inventive as they are intoxicating.
The line up features Tyler Harris (Alto Saxophone), Zakari Frantz (Alto Saxophone), Nicholas Dyson (Trumpet), Ed Lister (Trumpet), Ryan Purchase (Trombone) Michael Shultz (Trombone), Keith Walton (Sousaphone), and Mike Essoudry (Drums). Some of these names may be familiar from their work with Essoudry in his (now dispersed) parade band, Mash Potato Mashers. Essoudry and Walton’s deep pocketed and tightly heeled rhythm section lay the foundation for the imaginative and highly capable work of the horns. Many of these players are in demand for other projects around the city, but the blend of talent here strikes big band gold with decidedly striking melodic layering, explosive flourishes, and get down beats.
One of our favourite songs is “Unmitigated”. Literally muted for the first half of the song, the arrangement could almost be mistaken for restrained, but is loaded with kinetic energy. The whole band is hitting their stride in this one. It diverges slightly from the afrobeat groove prevalent throughout most of the album, almost evoking a film noir soundtrack feel. It really demonstrates the diversity in arrangements and composition that make The Bank Street Bonbons so very sweet to listen to.
The title track, “Move” begins simply enough, but ends with a bang: the tune builds to a cacophony of brass, even the sousaphone gets in on the fun. The Bank Street Bonbons use lots of busy textures–they don’t obfuscate, but rather lend layered interest into the tunes. The listener can get deeper and deeper into the track, discovering new threads with every listen.
“What We Have Learned” is another gem featuring layered flutes and trumpet, and features exhibits one of the more straightforward hip hop beats on the album. The tune maintains a subdued intensity throughout and expertly contrasts the heady flute flourishes with the materiality of the brass. Timbres are weaved around each other while the animating main theme gets passed from player to player. There is lots to hear in this track.
The Bank Street Bonbons will be releasing their debut album MOVE! On Saturday. November 4th at Irene’s Pub, 9:30 pm, $10. They will have their new CDs hot off the press and available for purchase.