Heritage Blues Orchestra (USA)

Listen to their debut album, And Still I Rise, or witness a live performance by the Heritage Blues Orchestra (H.B.O.) and you’ll recognize this group as something breathtakingly new even as they honor old African-American musical traditions. The grit of low-down country and urban blues to the bold brass of New Orleans; the hand-clapping, hustle and bustle of gospel to fiery postmodern, jazz-infused horn arrangements; the haunting cries of work songs to pulsating drums that reach back to the roots of it all—if you are lucky enough to hear the Heritage Blues Orchestra, you’ll experience this and more.

From the first of the twelve tracks on their debut album And Still I Rise, Junior Mack’s propulsive rendition of Son House’s Clarksdale Moan, Heritage Blues Orchestra unapologetically stomps onto the scene and digs in with both heels—taking us from Bill Sims’ hard-shuffling version of the immortal Muddy Waters classic, Catfish Blues, to the solemn dirge of Chaney Sims’ interpretation of Leadbelly’s Go Down Hannah to magnificent three-part harmonies against a slippery slide guitar in their head-nodding version of Get Right Church.

The group is driven by the powerful rhythms of Grammy-awarding winning blues drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith; buttressed by the churning, precise and percussive rhythms of harmonica virtuoso, Frenchman Vincent Bucher; and ablaze with some of New York City’s heaviest horn players who have worked with everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Sting and Springsteen.

Heritage Blues Orchestra also boasts contributions from Bruno Wilhelm, the group’s highly esteemed tenor saxophonist and horn arranger. A native of France, Wilhelm is influenced by an extensive palette of jazz styles. Whether with ethereal musings or hardhitting section work, his arrangements punctuate every song they touch.

This combined with Bill, Chaney and Junior’s collective history in jazz, R&B and gospel help articulate and underscore the Heritage Blues Orchestra’s striking voice. At the heart of the group is a broad spectrum of the blues and the longstanding musical mingling between America and Europe that brings together African-American music, Modern Jazz and Western European harmony.

Nowhere is the breadth of Heritage Blues Orchestra’s vision and reach better evidenced than on the album’s closing piece, Hard Times. This song, in 3 movements, demonstrates it all: the traditional call-and-response between a lone voice and guitar; a bewitching horn composition peppered with Miles Davis’ A Silent Way; and a final transition to a roofraising funk jam that leaps out and shoves you onto the dance floor.

This group is an inspiring testament to the enduring power, possibilities and boundless beauty of African-American music. It drives us down Highway 49 from Clarksdale to New Orleans, journeys across the Middle Passage, takes us from chain gangs and juke joints, to orchestra pits and church pews, and even to back porches.

Their loving celebration of tradition gives rise to a new adventure in music with a singular sound. Please welcome the exciting arrival of the Heritage Blues Orchestra.

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Heritage Blues Orchestra

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Movinmusic is taking bookings for the Heritage Blues Orchestra. Interested festivals, venues and promoters can contact us about their availability via e-mail or 0044 (0)1209 860067.


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