By: Jailene Adorno
This past weekend Cocek! Brass Band stopped by the WERS station as part of our Chagigah program, which celebrates the best in Jewish and Israeli music every Sunday from 8-11AM. The band currently consists of founder Sam Dechenne on trumpet, Ezra Weller on flugelhorn, Clayton DeWalt on trombone, Jim Gray on sousaphone, and Grant Smith on drum. Cocek! Brass Band is a mid-sized Balkan Brass band originating from the Boston area. All music is composed by Dechenne, who has been playing the trumpet for about twenty years. Their debut album Here Comes Shlomo is out and available on iTunes.
From the moment all of the band members got together, you could tell that they were all really close. They had good, almost brotherly, chemistry when they were all in the same room. There a sense of community and ease as they went about their routine and played their music. Cocek! Brass Band is family-friendly and they’re a good band for everyone to listen to. The band really pulls people in with its hypnotic melodies that are influenced by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music.
The first song that the band performed was called “Magic Man and His Magic Hat and His Magic Vest,” which was a super fun song to listen in on. It starts off with Smith on the drum and then Gray slides in on the sousaphone. The rest of the band follows suit playing their notes in a neat staccato, until Dechenne and Weller start carrying the melody on the trumpet and flugelhorn. The sousaphone dances around the melody in a very effortless way that only makes you appreciate the instrument that much more.
The men of Cocek! Brass Band spoke a little bit about how they got started and formed the band. Dechenne, originally from Portland, Oregon, grew up with an Egyptian friend who introduced him to this fun music.
“I listened to a lot of eastern European brass bands and Arabic music growing up,” says Dechenne.
He was originally training to become a classical musician, so he played in a lot of different orchestral bands. Later on, Dechenne decided to dip his feet into something new that he later became very passionate about.
After that, the band performed “Vagabond Dreamin.’” This song started off a bit slower and had more of an ominous ambience to it than the song before. The legato tune is very relaxing and the notes are elongated as the song goes on. Dechenne really got to showcase his skills on the trumpet as he took control of the melody. Towards the end, the song’s tone changed a little as it slips into a small serenade break, however, the tone then changes back to its elongated notes.
The last song that Cocek! Brass Band performed was titled “There Goes Shlomo,” which the band referred to as a sort of answer to the title of their album Here Comes Shlomo. This tune sounded different than the previous ones. It was fun, upbeat, and it made you want to dance. The song starts off with the drum and sousaphone and then the rest of the band enters in playing staccato. It also included some shrills from the flugelhorn and trumpet. The song ends on a very sultry note that makes you want to listen to it all over again. Dechenne later stated that “There Goes Shlomo” was one of his favorite jams to perform.
While on air, Dechenne spoke a little more about their name. “It’s a fun dance that a lot of our music is based off of.” The inspiration behind Cocek!’s album Here Comes Shlomo came from gypsy jazz bands. Dechenne described the band as a “funky five-piece brass band that you can dance to or just chill and sit back and listen to.”
Be sure to check out Cocek! Brass Band’s debut album Here Comes Shlomo. For more Chagigah music, tune in to WERS every Sunday from 8-11AM.