SXSW 2016 left attendees certain of one thing: brass is in. Whether it’s used as a 2nd or 3rd dimension in a band or a band’s primary instrument, 2016 holds major promise for the genre. The acceleration of brass is a gateway for success for Austin’s prominent Brass outfit- Hard Proof.
Culminating elements of African funk, modern jazz and new age rhythm, the ten man band is releasing a new fresh record: Public Hi-Fi Sessions 03 June 24 at Central Market (4001 N. Lamar) at 6:30 pm. Although Central Market typically poses as a steeply priced non-GMO utopia, the grocery store offers family-friendly experiences on a regular basis from beer tasting, to cooking school and of course, live music.
Hard Proof, composed of a crowd of musicians, Stephen Bidwell (drums), Tommy Spampinato (percussion), Tony Cruz (Congas), Joe Sokolik (bass) Aaron Sleator (guitar), Gerardo Larios (guitar/keyboard), John Branch (guitar), Joe Woulland (bari/sax and flute), Jason Frey (tenor saxophone) and Derek Phelps (trumpet) is family to a highly credited record label- guaranteeing impressive production.
Being a ten-man band allows them to cultivate a uniquely large resonance that embodies a beautiful, worldly sound- Congas, bari, saxophone, percussion, flute, guitar. The concept of their style is more…natural than what is typically seen in modern music- beats, electronica, etc. Hard proof is just instruments. It’s raw. It’s hard proof that “futuristic” music isn’t the only music on the rise. Classic instruments have the power to move consumers the same way new-age music does.
“A no pressure situation,” is what the album creation consisted of according to Hard Proof’s drummer, Stephen Bidwell. Public Hi-Fi Sessions 03 was a part of a larger project; Jim Eno, of spoon was teaching a class from Ohio University, and the students posed as interns, “running around learning to track a large group to tape,” quoted Bidwell. The results were serendipity. “We knew we needed to release it,” Bidwell proudly stated regarding the album.
Although Hard Proof is composed of ten men, the primary composers are heavy on brass from the work of Derek Phelps, Joe Sokolik and Joe Woullard. Phelps was on a minor break from the trumpet due to a busted lip when he got over his writers block- leading to aid in the production of the new album- a touching reminder of the power of an artists mind.
Hard Proof plays powerful music without rhetoric. Each song is crafted carefully through intellect and mindful experiences; manifested through brass, acoustics and percussion. They are funky, moving, uninhibited and play with an innate swagger. Their album release event at Central Market will be an experience of cultural sounds, new age jazz and an unveiling of a truly high fidelity record.
(Photo Courtesy: Stevan Alcala)