Readers of JAZZ LIVES know Gordon Au (youthful brass Maestro / composer / arranger / occasional vocalist) but may be less familiar with his gifted younger siblings — Justin (trumpet) and Brandon (trombone). They’ve played jazz festivals as the Au Brothers Jazz Band, keeping family ties strong with the addition of Howard (Uncle How) Miyata on tuba. Friends who round out the band are guitarist / banjoist / vocalist Katie Cavera and swing percussionist Danny Coots. On paper, especially for those used to the “traditional” line-up, this combination might look unorthodox, but it works beautifully. I can prove it!
They’ve just released their debut CD, aptly called THE AU BROTHERS TAKE OFF! (with witty art by Molly Reeves of the Red Skunk Gipzee band, and characteristically literate liner notes by Gordon).
The CD features a few chestnuts given new life — JELLY ROLL (with a vocal by Uncle How that is reminiscent of a good bakery) and LIMEHOUSE BLUES, several songs from a century ago — WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME (vocal by the choreographic Katie) and CENTRAL, GIVE ME BACK MY DIME (a song new to me but one that gives Brandon an opportunity to rail at the limitations of the “new” technology when it’s involved in romance) — and originals by Gordon which show his range from wooing to hilarious, from swing to comedic grotesquerie: PISMO BEACH PARADE, STINKY FEET BLUES (not what you might expect), CAPITAL-BOUND, HOW COULD I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU, TANGO OF LOST LOVES, BROOKLYNBURG RAG — and a wonderful collage of themes from jazz classics, BIG CHIEF DADA’S AXE OF PLENTY STRAIN. The interplay between the horns is marvelous; the rhythm section rocks, and the whole enterprises sits comfortably somewhere between the Hot Five, Gil Evans, Tom Lehrer, and Spike Jones, the balance shifting from song to song.
You can find out more about the band (their schedule of future appearances) and the CD here, and the Brothers have generously posted many videos of the band on this site.
I will take this opportunity to add to the Brothers’ video hoard — for current watchers and future generations as well as life forms on other planets who might be vibrating to the gigabytes in interstellar space — with some engaging evidence of the ABJB in action at the 2013 Jazz Fest by the Bay in Monterey, California. Gordon’s casual wardrobe was especially arranged by American Airlines’ baggage handlers.
PISMO BEACH PARADE:
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN:
HOW CAN I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU?:
TANGO OF LOST LOVES:
WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME:
In the words of the 1933 LAUGHIN’ LOUIE, “Take off, Gate!”
May your happiness increase!