Upstairs at the Stone House Pub in South Philly, in an empty billiard room with the blinds drawn against the midday sun, Mike Strickland Jr. hums a line to himself before trying to replicate it on a baritone horn. He and some of the other members of New Sound Brass are in the middle of arranging some Bob Marley tunes for their 10-piece ensemble. There’s no sheet music, no talk of music theory, just Strickland’s animated instructions about how to capture the vibe of the reggae standards and make them their own.
“We can play whatever you want to hear,” says Dan Demmy, who plays trombone. “We put it in our brass machine and turn those words into sounds. It changes everything.”
All told, Strickland, Demmy, Bruce Swinton Jr., Jimmy Carras, Patrick Renzi, Thomas Hagglock, Larissa Hall and three members…
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