Tag Archives: James Brown

St. Clair Pinckney at 33:09

5 Apr

What better than a screeching solo from the late great St. Clair Pinckney to herald a costume change from black tux, black shirt, black bowtie to jade green jumpsuit and jerkin?  Of course I recommend the whole video, but if you’ve only got a minute for now, St. Clair’s solo is the height of horn-chic.  If you’re on leisure time start at the top and enjoy the mindblowing performance by BB King and glimpse MJ in the house too.

Happy Birthday to Aaron Johnson, Micah Gaugh and Michael Kammers

1 Apr

This week 3 of my favorite horn players celebrated their birthdays.  I’ve played with Aaron, Micah and Michael in many projects over the years including Electro Fetus, Rev. Vince Anderson & The Love Choir, TV on the Radio, Mackie Riverside & The Street Pushers and Burnt Sugar .  They’re all amazing fiery players who really shred as well as being great section players.

Micah Gaugh plays alto and a bent soprano sax (sometimes simultaneously, which literally makes women scream) and I play with him in Burnt Sugar; he also plays in Apollo Heights and has a solo project called Puppet. Aaron Johnson plays the hot & steamy trombone you’ve heard in Antibalas, The El Michels Affair and Fela! on Broadway, for which he received a Tony nomination in his role as musical director, and Michael Kammers is a screaming tenor man who has a prolifically self composed for 14 piece big band called MK Groove Orchestra which also plays out in a truncated trio format, the MK Trio, plays sax, farfisa and bass pedals in The Suite Unraveling and sometimes tours with Easy Star All Stars.

As an astrology fancier, I felt like I was in a furnace when I got to simultaneously play in a section with all three first decan Arians around my birthday last June when we played in INDOMITABLE, Burnt Sugar’s tribute to James Brown featuring Brandon Victor Dixon.

Even though all three of these guys have repeatedly, um, blown me away with their soloing prowess over the years, I recommend you find them live in concert, because I couldn’t find video footage to emphasize their awesomeness strongly enough on the http://www.  Real life is still best!

Here’s some examples of what they do respectively:

Micah in his amazing solo project Puppet:

Here’s Aaron with Antibalas playing Elephant …

Michael Kammers released his first solo EP, The Claustrophobic Noise EP, last year which I was honored to play on.

You can listen to it right here:


The Horns of James Brown

24 Dec

James Brown has been on my mind more than ever this year and so many nights I’ve fallen asleep with those horn parts not so much swirling as stabbing and jabbing in my head. Burnt Sugar has been working on the music of James Brown all year; we performed it at the Serralves Festival in Porto, Portugal in June, at The Apollo Theater Salon Series in October and just last week at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC. There’s more to come and I’ve come to realize that attempting to learn and approximate let alone perfect all those horn parts could be a lifetime pursuit. Having said that, talking about those parts and the players who gave them to us will probably become a recurring theme on this blog. Everyone knows The JBs, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker & Peewee Ellis, but I have come to love the sound of St. Clair Pinckney’s horns on many of the tunes too. Anyway, as we approach the anniversary of James Brown’s death with which he masterfully eclipsed and forever transformed the meaning of the December 25th holiday I leave you with this consummately groovy film clip of his Soulful Christmas featuring those seemingly simple but indispensable horn lines.