|20120130||Colin Salmon takes listeners on a journey from the deserts of India to the rainforests of the Caribbean - in search of some truly unusual, uplifting, and thoroughly infectious World Class Brass.|
In the twilight of British colonial rule, all around the world, brass bands were the soundtrack to Empire. But as country after country gained independence, the old military tunes fell out of use, replaced by a distinctive, local sound.
The journey begins relatively close to home, in the tiny island nation of Malta. The only country to be awarded the George Cross, Malta is fiercely proud of its British brass band heritage. From the colourful summer "festas", where thousands dance in street processions, to the terraces of its passionate football fans, the sound of brass is never far away. But with Maltese culture a mix of British, Italian and North African influences, Malta has marched the British brass band to surprising new places.
From the Mediterranean we take a giant leap to the deserts of northern India, where generations of brass musicians have played for local royalty: the Maharanas and Maharajas of Rajasthan. Nowadays, most bands find employment leading the festivities at marriages, proof of the old Indian saying "no brass, no wedding".
Indian brass bands may have their origins in the British military ensembles of the Raj, but the influences go both ways: our guides are the British group Bollywood Brass Band, who travel to India to lend an "exotic" touch to a high-society nuptial, bringing the story of British-Indian brass full circle.
The programme features the Imperial Band Club of Malta, Maharana of Mewar City Palace Band, Jea Band, Bollywood Brass Band, Shyam Brass Band and Jaipur Kawa Brass Band.
Colin Salmon is best known for his roles in several James Bond movies, Prime Suspect and Bad Girls but he's also an accomplished trumpet player. His jazz quartet has performed at venues across the UK, including at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and he has performed as a musician in productions of Porgy & Bess and Buddy.
Playing musician Note Makoti opposite singer Jill Scott in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, gave Colin the opportunity to combine both of his passions. The series was shot in Botswana and featured original southern African jazz.
Colin Salmon introduces listeners to some unusual and uplifting brass music.
|20120206||It's hard to imagine West African music without brass, from the ecstatic dance music of Fela Kuti to highlife, the soundtrack to Ghanaian Independence from British rule. This week's journey begins in an unlikely place - a funeral for an important priest in the Volta region of Ghana, three hours inland from the capital, Accra.|
The brass band play mournfully in the church, but the moment the coffin is lowered, the funeral turns into the biggest party of the year, celebrating the pastor's return to heaven with a street carnival of drums and trumpets, food and dancing. Following the golden sound of brass through Ghanaian military, church and popular music, we visit a legendary highlife guitarist to hear about why brass matters so much in Africa, we go on parade with the Ghanaian Defence Force Band and we drop in on rapper who lays down lyrics to live brass.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Nigeria, brass rang out both the melody and the rhythm in the music of the legendary Fela Kuti. We immerse ourselves in some storming tunes and learn how brass was truly 'the icing on the afrobeat cake'.
Colin Salmon presents and the programme features the Ghanaian Defence Force Band, E.T. Mensah & The Tempos, the Christ Prince of Peace Brass Band, Yaa Pono, Fela Kuti & Egypt 80, plus Soothsayers.
Colin Salmon takes a closer look at brass band music in West Africa.
|20120213||In this final episode we travel to the lush, tropical islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Best known for carnival - a homegrown tradition - Trinidad is also the home of calypso. So it's no surprise that British-inspired military brass found its way onto recordings by legendary calypsonians like the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, even the American Harry Belafonte.|
We catch up with the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force Band, we visit Trinidad's longest-running dance orchestra - playing non-stop since the 1950s, we pay homage to a generation of British-based calypsonians and enjoy a tete-a-tete with the much-loved female calypsonian, Calypso Rose.
Following the trail of the trumpet, we hop across the water to New York, to discover how a band of brothers is moving live brass in a completely new direction. The finale is a group of youngsters at Britain's own Notting Hill Carnival, who mash-up vintage Caribbean sounds with everything from hip-hop to English folk, confirming that World Class Brass is alive and kicking in the UK.
Colin Salmon presents and the programme features the Trindad & Tobago Defence Force Band, Joey Lewis & His Orchestra, Lord Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Ed Watson & His Brass Circle, Hypnotic Brass Band and Kinetika Bloco.
The final episode travels to Trinidad and Tobago, then on to New York.