About the album
When you listen to the eight tracks of the new album The Sweet Chicago Suite by Ray Anderson's Pocket Brass Band, you often feel breathless, because Ray Anderson, Lew Soloff, Matt Perrine and Bobby Previte play so impressively. With all the power displayed, you can quickly forget that the Pocket Brass Band is really only a quartet. Of course, a good share of the music's roots is in the marching bands from New Orleans; Anderson feels a spiritual bond to this magical place and its music. However, you already notice due to the album name that it is not a tribute to the "Big Easy", but instead to Ray's hometown Chicago.
Ray Anderson: "The Sweet Chicago Suite is both a musical description of Chicago in the 60’s and a reflection on my coming of age. I was born in 1952 in Chicago and grew up in Hyde Park, the small, integrated community on the South Side where the University of Chicago holds sway. The piece meditates on the many powerful forces that buffeted and educated me: my family, the counter-culture of the time, pervasive racism and the civil rights movement, Chicago Police, Blackstone Rangers (a gang of youths, somewhere between a self-appointed militia for protecting residents and the mafia), Vietnam, High School, girls and, of course, music." The first six tracks are from the original version of Sweet Chicago Suite, which Anderson composed and performed for the order of Chamber Music America in 2001.
The English word "brass" signifies not only wind instrument players in German, but also copper coins. In this context, the Pocket Brass Band would be a group whose pocket money is only composed of copper coins. Such a self-mocking pun is certainly something that Ray Anderson is more than capable of. After all, he likes to present his music with a wink of the eye, even if he adamantly rejects the insinuation that he would play merry music. This man means it seriously, in such a merry way that is transmitted directly to the listener.