St. Louis and New Orleans may be separated by 700 miles, but the cities have plenty in common: French ancestry, lapsed Catholics and competitive overeaters. Of course, both towns have long fostered jazz and blues music scenes, and every now and then a band comes along to fuse the two traditions. Like the Funky Butt Brass Band, whose lineup features members of Gumbohead, the Feed and Musica Slesa. The sextet transplants the New Orleans brass-band tradition to St. Louis on Cut the Body Loose, but the group's love for the NOLA-bred music is far from slavish devotion.
In fact, it's safe to say that the Funky Butt Brass Band uses the New Orleans brass tradition as a base and then builds off of it. "If You Love Me Like You Say" is a heartfelt soul number in the Stax Records tradition, while the slide guitar gives a country & Western flair to the taxpayer's lament on "Hey Yeah." With only four horn players, the band's sound isn't as thick and boisterous as it could be, but each instrumentalist adds his own flair. Saxophonist Ben Reece comes off sounding like Tom Waits sideman Ralph Carney on the dirty blues of "Gone Gone Blues," while trumpeter Adam Hucke uses solos to test the upper octaves of the instrument; Tim Halpin adds guitar and vocals to many of the tracks. Special attention must also be paid to sousaphone player Matt Brinkmann, who supplies the band's rumbling bass lines. It's a reminder that funk can come from the unlikeliest places — even an unwieldy, oversized hunk of metal.
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