Cocek! Brass Band to Play Dewey Hall

Cocek! Brass Band

Cocek! Brass Band

(SHEFFIELD, Mass.) – Cocek! Brass Band, a quintet that blends the best brass band traditions of the Balkans, New Orleans, Afrobeat, klezmer with elements of reggae and Western art music, brings it dynamic fusion to Dewey Hall on Thursday June 9, at 7pm. The Boston-based ensemble is inspired by acts like Fanfare Ciocarlia, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis, Rebirth Brass Band, traditional Balkan songs, and the chamber brass repertoire.

Cocek! Brass Band is the brainchild of trumpet player Sam Dechenne. The band performs original music by Dechenne based on the sounds of Eastern European brass bands. The band’s members come from internationally touring ensembles like John Brown’s Body and Itzhak Perlman and bring a blend of dance music with emotive improvisation and melodies that evoke crazy dancing, contemplative thoughts, and good times.

Cocek! consists of Sam Dechenne (trumpet/vocals/composer), Ezra Weller (flugelhorn), Clayton DeWalt (trombone), Jim Gray (tuba) and Grant Smith (Tappan drum).

For all that they’re named after a Balkan dance, Cocek! Brass Brand aren’t slavish copyists of the style. It’s definitely there, but it’s only one ingredient in a spicy stew of horns. The five-piece (two trumpets, trombone, tuba, and drums) also draw from jazz, New Orleans, and even reggae – not too much of a stretch, as Dechenne is a member of John Brown’s Body, one of America’s leading roots reggae bands.

Cocek! Brass Band

Cocek! Brass Band

“I wrote all the material on the album,” Dechenne explains. ‘We’re not trying to be traditional. It comes from all the music I’ve played, whether it’s Balkan, West African, Dixieland, classical brass, marching bands, or whatever.”

Listen closely and there’s plenty of klezmer in the sound, too. That’s unusual, as the style usually revolves around violin and clarinet. But it’s not too astonishing. Both Dechenne and tuba player Jim Gray work in Boston-based outfit Klezwoods, while drummer Grant Smith is a founding member of the famed Klezmer Conservatory Band, and works with the legendary Itzhak Perlman.

“It’s definitely there,” Dechenne agrees, “but there’s always been a crossover between klezmer and Roma music, which is one of the roots of Balkan brass. And half the tracks of the album are Balkan ?o?ek dance tunes. People might not be able to pronounce the word (it’s cho-check) but that’s fine. What we really want is to bring this music to a wide range of people.”

“We played a show in Boston and a bunch of guys from Serbia were in the audience. They stood right at the front with their arms crossed. We didn’t know what to expect. Afterwards, they came up and said they loved it.”

The concert is a production of Oldtone Music .




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