The ceremony is done and its time for the bridal party, groomsmen and families to get their photos taken. Definitely time for a drink and to catch up with old friends and extended family. Whilst waiting for the Martini to kick in, nibbling on fried calamari and checking out the cold bar, you notice something is missing.
Then the band kicks in. Transporting you back to the heyday of sophistication, elegance and most importantly entertainment, the quintessential element to a perfect and memorable cocktail hour is the band. It can turn a forgettable, humdrum, run of the mill part of the wedding experience into one of the highlights of day. It sets the mood for the rest of the evening, so making the appropriate choice of repertoire is quite an important decision.
We in The Chamberlain Brass have been playing cocktail hours in and around New York for over three years. We have listened to many couples and have written exclusive custom arrangements to make their cocktail hours perfect. When we began, there was little to no music written for a brass quintet specifically for this purpose. Most of the pieces are arranged with a concert in mind, so they can be over arranged and intrusive. The music necessary for a cocktail hour sets the mood, and gets people smiling because they know the tune and can sing or hum along. It also wouldn’t be New York if there weren’t a few improvised solos thrown in.
Traditionally the brass quintet repertoire is mostly in the realm of ‘Classical’ music. Their role, aside from concerts, is playing for wedding and graduation ceremonies. With Chamberlain Brass, we have noticed that brides want the ease of using just one vendor to take care of both the ceremony and cocktail hour. Our flexibility comes from having the dynamic range to be heard outside, or majestic in a church for the ceremony, and emulating a big band sound in the background for the classiest cocktail hour. We customize our music to what the bride and groom want. They can be as vague as to just choose the general style, to them picking every single tune in the set. If there is a song that is not on the list, we will write it.
A New Genre
The evolution of the cocktail hour for brass quintet has lead to Chamberlain Brass creating a new genre in this style. The jazz brass quintet now has over forty new arrangements and is growing every day. This evolution has come from the requests of couples, some of our favorite songs and just as importantly, the skill to execute the repertoire. To be able to switch from a ‘Classical’ ceremony to a swinging rendition of New York, New York is no easy feat!
This week Chamberlain Brass recorded a new album in the jazz brass quintet style. It showcases how exciting and diverse a brass quintet can be. Music ranging from Frank Sinatra and Antônio Carlos Jobim all the way to Stevie Wonder and Christina Perri demonstrates the flexibility that this ensemble has. In homage to the roots of this new style, we have named the album “Cocktail Hour”. We are honored to have Terell Stafford, one of the world’s premiere trumpet players featured on the recording.
Looking to 2014 we will be thrilled to announce the release of the album and the start of another exciting wedding season. New weddings mean new requests and fresh arrangements that no-one has ever heard before. You can say on your wedding day, not only did we have a perfect cocktail hour, we hosted the debut performance of a new musical work.
- Jayan Nandagopan
Founder and leader of the Chamberlain Brass and freelance trumpet player in NYC.