SAN FRANCISCO — A Rebirth Brass Band show is not just a concert; it’s a higher-level event. Even those who haven’t seen the decades-running troupe perform at its tin-roofed Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans can attest that the cyclone of horns, trumpets, trombones, saxophones and cacophonous percussionists, creating a blend of jazz, island and Latin grooves can inspire the most cynical to shake their hips. That was the case Friday at Bimbo’s, the first of two shows in San Francisco. Friday’s show was made even more special by a tremendous performance by locals John Brothers Piano Company.
The eight-member-strong Rebirth Brass Band quickly blew through the first hour of its set, with many songs longer than seven minutes in length and consisting of several movements. Throughout, the band members would snippet covers, such as Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman” and TLC’s “Waterfalls.”
Most of the songs lacked lyrics, making them hard to distinguish to casual fans, but that didn’t matter. From “What Goes Around Comes Around” to “Move Your Body,” “Do It Again” and “It’s All Over Now (I Used to Love Her),” the shining songs communicated more than words could by themselves.
The Bay Area’s John Brothers Piano Company opened the show with an hourlong set that was as impressive as the headliners. The quartet, led by John Thatcher Boomer, deftly mixed jazz, classical, swing, Gypsy folk and some Bossa nova. Each musician could seemingly master all of his bandmates’ instruments, switching between piano, clarinet, bass, trombone and drums. The frontman truly was a “company” all on his own, either on the piano or clarinet, his fingers deftly dancing over the keys.
The band kicked things off with a five-minute drum and piano piece that was heavily reminiscent of Rachmaninoff, before settling into more traditional jazz and lounge music. But the set was was never stagnant, and most songs carried movements with different tempos and influences.
— Roman Gokhman