Whether receiving props from The Roots on Twitter, jamming with puppets on CBC Kids' Mamma Yamma, or being championed by influential UK DJ and tastemaker Gilles Peterson, The Heavyweights Brass Band pack a one-two punch of crossover appeal and respect from music's elite. The players are Rob Teehan (Sousaphone), Paul Metcalfe (Sax), Jon Challoner and John Pittman (Trumpet), Chris Butcher (Trombone) and Lowell Whitty (Drums). Inspired by the New Orleans brass band tradition, the Heavyweights' original stance keeps one foot firmly rooted in the rich legacy of jazz, while another steps into the future. The Heavyweights are unafraid to incorporate influences from disparate areas of the spectrum – from today’s pop hits to original compositions, from R&B and funk throwbacks to infectious Latin America rhythms, all woven together with the thread of adventuresome sophistication.
The Heavyweights’ impressive ascent is the result of relentless dedication. Touring across Canada and sharing the stage with such influential groups as Trombone Shorty and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble has helped build the group a loyal following. Their 2014 sophomore release, Brasstronomical, offered a unique sound with an emphasis on original compositions. Here, they delved deeper into each musical direction implied on their debut, revealing a band that was stronger, bolder, funkier and more mature than ever. In a 2015 interview with the Calgary Herald, trombonist and co-bandleader Chris Butcher reflected on his band’s success: “I really view the Heavyweights as a break from jazz that is too cerebral and intellectual… That’s why we can tour the country and play all of the jazz festivals, because we’re something a bit out of left field.” He added,” The most important thing for me is that we have an audience and we have people who enjoy the music. To me, the rest is extraneous.”