In just over three short years, the pioneering Brooklyn dhol n’ brass band Red Baraat have made a name for themselves as one of the best live bands playing anywhere in the world. Led by dhol player Sunny Jain, the nine piece (comprised of dhol ((double-sided barrel shaped North Indian drum slung over one shoulder)) drumset, percussion, sousaphone, and 5 horns melds the infectious North Indian rhythm Bhangra with a host of sounds, namely funk, go-go, latin, and jazz. Simply put, Sunny Jain and Red Baraat have created and defined a sound entirely their own.
It’s a sound so powerful it has left the band in its own utterly unique and enviable class. You are as likely to find Red Baraat throwing down at an overheated and unannounced warehouse party in their Brooklyn neighborhood as you are at the Barbican or the Montreal Jazz Festival or Lincoln Center.
Red Baraat kicked off 2012 as a chosen performer at the ultra-prestigious TED Conference in Long Beach, CA. As word has spread, the band has been celebrated in outlets including The New Yorker, NPR, Songlines, and National Geographic. In April of 2012 Red Baraat performed at the White House, prompting the Secretary of Labor to exclaim "Listen to that music. The White House is on fire!" In June, Red Baraat will bring their explosive show to Bonnaroo one of the US's premiere festivals. It is true, as NPR tastemaker said, that "2012 is going to be a very big year for Red Baraat."
Leading an audience as diverse and joyful as the band itself, Red Baraat has subsumed a plateful of global influence, fused it, and is now exporting it Brooklyn-style to the world.
After the group’s performance at the 2011 globalFEST, Red Baraat was a top pick favorite and featured on PRI’s The World, Voice of America, NPR’s All Songs Considered, New York Times, The Village Voice and Mother Jones magazine.
Red Baraat’s debut CD, Chaal Baby (Sinj Records) was received with an overwhelming positive response and was voted by several music critics as both a top world and jazz release of 2010. Since their inception in October 2008, Red Baraat has delivered blistering performances at globalFEST, Montreal Jazz Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Madison World Music Festival, Concert of Colors (Detroit), Droma Gypsy Festival, Pori Jazz Festival (Finland), Molde Jazz Festival (Norway) and Chicago Folks & Roots Festival, among many others. Red Baraat appeared on John Schaefer's Soundcheck WNYC-FM 93.9, an NPR affiliate, in which they were picked as a top live radio performance of 2009. They also recorded the credit roll theme song for the movie, The Yes Men Fix the World and performed at the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (NYC) for Ports 1961 runway models. Red Baraat has been featured in National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Relix and Songlines, among many others.
The group is currently in the studio working on the follow up to their debut release Chaal Baby and is aiming for a release in the fall of 2012.
Sunny Jain - Dhol, Vocals & MC
Rohin Khemani - Percussion
Tomas Fujiwara - Drumset
Arun Luthra - Soprano Sax, konnakol
Mike Bomwell - Baritone Saxophone
Sonny Singh - Trumpet, & Vocals
MiWi La Lupa - & Vocals, Bass Trumpet
Smoota - Trombone
John Altieri - Sousaphone, Rap Vocals
Chaal Baby (Sinj Records 2010)
Bootleg Bhangra - Live (Sinj Records 2011) - EP to be released June 2011
Shruggy Ji (Sinj Records 2012) - To be released Fall of 2012
Sounds of the World, Sousaphones Included
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And there was a raucous finale. The last set belonged to Red Baraat, a Brooklyn brass band (complete...And there was a raucous finale. The last set belonged to Red Baraat, a Brooklyn brass band (complete with sousaphone) that looks to South Asia, pumping out Bollywood tunes and Sufi songs with a crackling beat (from the two-headed dhol drum) and the muscle of horns blasting in unison, putting some New York bluster atop faraway roots.
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by BOB BOILEN Red Baraat is the best party band I've seen in years. The group plays rollicking fu...by BOB BOILEN
Red Baraat is the best party band I've seen in years. The group plays rollicking funk music steeped in Northern India's wedding celebrations, with a dash of D.C. go-go beats and hip-hop. It's all driven by Sunny Jain's dhol, a double-sided barrel drum that hangs down low around his body.
If the drum is the messenger, the brass is the message. Uplifting melodies emanate from baritone and soprano saxophones, bass trumpet, trombone and sousaphone. This is a band that jazz lovers can appreciate and rock fans can dance to.
Red Baraat is based in Brooklyn, and has played the Montreal Jazz Festival and at Lincoln Center. I first saw the group at globalFEST 2011 on a tiny basement stage that barely contained the band physically and overwhelmed the audience emotionally. I heard a dozen bands that night, but Red Baraat was the one that stuck with me.
After the group's joyously noisy set at the Tiny Desk, a wide array of people — from our youngest interns to some of our oldest journalists — told me how much they loved Red Baraat. Of all the concerts that have come to my desk, this seemed to be the little-known band that won over the most hearts. I get the feeling that, for Red Baraat, 2012 is going to be a big, big year.
An Indian Brass Band Makes a Big Noise in New York
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For the past two years the band Red Baraat has been one of the New York music scene's best-kept secr...For the past two years the band Red Baraat has been one of the New York music scene's best-kept secrets. Based on the ubiquitous village brass bands of India's Punjab region, Red Baraat has been creating havoc on dancefloors all over the city, and on the national festival circuit, too.
Led by the eclectic Sunny Jain who is equal parts MC and percussionist (he's a master of the dhol , the iconic, double-sided, barrel-shaped Punjabi drum), Red Baraat features a mighty brass section comprised of trumpet, saxophone, trombone and sousaphone played by an energetic 9-piece band.
Even though Red Baraat performs classic Bollywood numbers and Punjabi folk songs (their version of "Mundian To Bach Ke" is a must-hear), Red Baraat's sound and vision transcends its South Asian inspiration, bringing a universal dancefloor message that needs no translation from Bombay to Brooklyn.
And now the secret is out, with the release of Red Baraat's debut album Chaal Baby on their own independent Sinj Records label.
We recently sat down with Sunny Jain to talk about how it all began...
Nat Geo Music First things first: Describe the music of Red Baraat.
Sunny Jain: I would say Red Baraat serves up intricate melodies that slither like a snake projected by a powerful brass lineup, a la marching band style - including a sousaphone. The drumset and percussion grooves reflect rhythms from around the world but the feel is ultimately rooted in India as the dhol bangs out Punjabi bhangra beats.
What does that sound like?
Something akin to a New Orleans second-line rhythm, but with much more shoulder shrugging and hip-shaking.
Is it true that the band came together for the first time at your wedding?
Yes, Red Baraat, before the band was even named, had its birth on my wedding day, August 27, 2005. In typical North Indian tradition, I had a baraat [wedding processional consisting of singing, dancing and music] that 30 or so of my musician friends brought me in with. Shortly thereafter, I started receiving calls as people heard about there being a marching band in town for Indian weddings. [laughs]
I put a 5-piece band together and we played our first couple of baraats in the summer of 2006. The word spread very quickly after that and since then, we've been playing close to 30 weddings or more a year.
That story sounds very similar to how many European Gypsy bands start out. When did you start to perform in public?
I didn't form what's now known as Red Baraat and take it public until late 2008. I guess it's just been my musical journey that eventually brought me to wanting to put together such a band. I fell in love with the sound of dhol when I started playing it in 2002 and I wanted to lead a band where I wasn't behind the entire band on drumset, but instead up front playing the dhol. As I started thinking of instrumentation, I also knew that I wanted a wide variety of voices and musical personalities to make up the sound of Red Baraat and no electrified instruments.
What's the reception been like so far?
It has been tremendous. It's pretty cool to be able to look out into an audience and to see the different folks we bring together through the common language of music. It's also great that the band and our music lends to great flexibility in being able to perform in a variety of situations, from world music festivals to fashion shows, jazz venues to outdoor social justice rallies, Indian weddings to recently opening up for The Slackers! All of us in Red Baraat just love playing in this band and I think that comes across in our performances, which allows us to connect with such great audiences who in return give us awesome energy.
In addition to paying homage to India and marching bands, there is an improvisational element in your music that has traces of jazz.
After receiving so much feedback of the marching band at my wedding, I started remembering the number one reason why I and so many friends started playing music to begin with: to communicate and connect with people. This important principle can sometimes get lost in playing jazz nowadays, which is the background I am coming from.
Who are your influences?
Each one of us in the band have imprinted our own personal musical experience into the sound of Red Baraat. My original intention with the sound of the band was to bring the instinctual shoulder dancing of bhangra music; develop a sound that blends various musical aesthetics, similar to how Fela Kuti created Afrobeat, but on the Indian tip; and to lead a band that enveloped and projected positive vibes, similar to what I learned playing in The Himalayas under the direction of drum master Kenny Wollesen.
What about the Gypsy influence? It seems like the horns and the party vibe bring out Balkan sounds.
I guess the Gypsy sound is inherently in our music because the Gypsies originated in North India centuries ago. You will find that melismatic, microtonal approach in Indian music, Balkan music, and Middle Eastern music. Then coming from a jazz background, that sound just naturally seeped into our music, specifically the improvisatory element of jazz, but there are a host of other influences entering our music, such as funk, go-go, Brazilian, rock, and more.
I've seen the band several times now, including at smaller clubs, where literally everybody was jumping up and down. What does it take to build that kind of infectious energy?
We aim to bring the party! There's just something about the primal sound of all those acoustic instruments - particularly the dhol - that strikes people at the core. We're also just having such a blast up there as a band and when audiences see and feel that, they feed their energy to us, which just amps us up even more. If I end a performance with my shirt drenched in sweat, I know I gave it my all and didn't hold back at all.
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Hailing from überchic Brooklyn in the melting pot of New York City, Red Baraat have a studied multi-...Hailing from überchic Brooklyn in the melting pot of New York City, Red Baraat have a studied multi-ethnic cool reminiscent of other New York world fusion acts like Gogol Bordello and Yerba Buena. Led by percussionist and dhol drummer Sunny Jain, they are a full-tilt Punjabi bhangra wedding band colliding with the sounds of New York jazz and funk. Stacked up with a brass section of soprano and tenor sax, trumpet, bass trumpet, trombone and sousaphone, this music is all about partying. A nine-piece in all, with drummer Tomas Fujiwara and Rohin Khemani on tavil (South Indian hand-drum) and doumbek (Arabic goblet drum), from the opening track – ‘Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle)’ – the intention is to make you dance like an exuberant uncle at a wedding. They are at their bhangra and funk best on tracks like ‘Chaal Baby’ or ‘Hey Jamalo’ but slide into jazz forays as the album progresses, as in ‘Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai’. The album also tends to a single – fairly uptempo – pace, with the cool closing jazz number ‘Samaro Mantra’ being the sole exception. It’s also entirely
instrumental aside from occasional whoops and yells. Being a band for dancing, or indeed marching, this is unsurprising, though you may be seeking more variety if you choose to sit down and listen. But for a multicultural brew of swaggering dance music, look no further.
Boston Globe Feature
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As an up-and-coming jazz drummer with numerous awards and commissions over the past decade, Sunny Ja...As an up-and-coming jazz drummer with numerous awards and commissions over the past decade, Sunny Jain has had plenty of chances to swing behind the drumset. But it’s in his role as a dholi, or dhol player, that Jain swings the hardest, leading Red Baraat, the unique and highly funky hybrid of a marching band that he founded four years ago in Brooklyn. The nine-piece outfit makes its Boston debut on Wednesday night at T.T. the Bear’s.....
A Big Band for the World
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Every night is a different dance party at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing, an outdoor concert...Every night is a different dance party at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing, an outdoor concert series running through July 17. Thursday night's show will be a mix of Indian Bhangra and New Orleans brass, by way of Brooklyn. Making its Midsummer debut is the nine-piece band Red Baraat, which will perform along with D.J. Rekha. Founded in 2008 by dhol player and composer Sunny Jain, who was born to Punjabi immigrant parents and raised in Rochester, N.Y., Red Baraat unites percussion and brass for an explosive sound that draws from a wide variety of traditions from around the world.
Red Baraat released its debut album, "Chaal Baby," in 2009, and plays regularly at Barbes, a small jazz club in Park Slope. But the group's big sound has also led it to international tours and local events, including a show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. These days, Mr. Jain and company are on a tour that will lead them across American and through Europe, then back to New York for three shows in August.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Jain explained how it all comes together.
Wall Street Journal: How do you describe the Red Baraat sound?
Sunny Jain: It's based on acoustic instruments bringing a powerful, primal sound. There are nine pieces: the central drum, dhol, drumset, percussion, sousaphone and several horns. While the foundation is North Indian Bhangra, there are a multitude of musical elements, such as funk, jazz, hip-hop, go-go, rock, Brazilian. There's vocal interaction, from Punjabi singing to English rapping to call-and-response.
WSJ: How does Red Baraat compare to bands with similar instruments?
Mr. Jain: There is a long history of the Indian brass band. There's one at every wedding. What differs is that we are combining all the brass with the dhol and drumset. What separates it from a New Orleans brass band is the presence of the dhol. I wasn't trying to have an Indian wedding band. We're creating a sound that reflects a variety of influences—a New York City, urban American sound.
WSJ: With so many influences, the band isn't easy to categorize. But that seems to be working for you.
Mr. Jain: This band can fit into various programming, from world music to jazz to jam-band to ethnic festivals. We aim to deliver massive amounts of energy at our live shows.
WSJ: Your bandmates come from extremely different musical backgrounds. What are the some of the traditions and flavors that they bring?
Mr. Jain: Drumset player Tomas Fujiwara had worked on the show "STOMP" for several years, and I was looking for him to bring in that sensibility. Percussionist Rohin Khemani has a background in Indian classical music as a tabla player. He has also played jazz, pop and been a drum kit player to a world percussionist. Trumpet player and vocalist Sonny Singh comes from a ska/reggae background. Our sousaphone player, John Altieri, is a rare breed, bringing funky bass lines and rapping, too. Mike Bomwell plays tenor or alto saxophone, but mostly baritone sax. His flexibility is a great asset. Arun Luthra is our horn-section leader and plays soprano sax. Aside from his jazz background, Arun played South-Indian classical music and Afro-Cuban. Trombonist, Smoota comes from a funk, R&B and pop background. He has a sound that is unparalleled by any trombonist in the city. MiWi La Lupa, our bass trumpeter, is the glue in the horn section, hitting our melodies, but also creating some wonderful harmonies.
WSJ: How do you meld all that together?
Mr. Jain: I had it in mind what I wanted us to sound like, but I also left room for each member to bring their own unique voice to the group so that we could develop the complete group sound together. It is because of each individual player in the band that we are Red Baraat.
Dhol Funk in NY
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Red Baraat blends bhangra with brass funk, shaadi music with sousaphones and makes US club-goers dan...Red Baraat blends bhangra with brass funk, shaadi music with sousaphones and makes US club-goers dance like Indians.
It’s evening, and New York's East Village suddenly empties of people. The bustle of bar-hoppers, party-goers and diners is replaced by an eerie industrial hum. Lurking shadows loom where people once walked. But behind a heavy door and thick velvet curtains, the ground vibrates with music — Red Baraat is in performance.
They have listeners to the left of them, spectators to the right of them and fans squeezed into the front. Their music immediately reminds one of the marriage processions of north India, led by a garnished groom on a reluctant mare. Doli saja ke rakhna is transmogrified into something faster, stronger, bolder. The desis sing along, the New Yorkers pummel the floor as the thump of the dhol and the echo of the horns lay siege. Nicola Shepheard from New Zealand says, “I like Red Baraat’s exuberant, Miami Vice Indian-style music. It can rouse a sleepy bar full of people in spite of themselves.”
Red Baraat is a dhol n’ brass band, which melds bhangra with brass funk. Theirs is an audacious new sound, a blend of dhol, drumset, percussion and five horns. Over the last two years, the band has made clubs in the US dance like the Indians. Sunny Jain, the lead dhol player and founder, feels that they appeal to South Asian and western audiences because they engage with their music at a “visceral level”. He adds, “It’s great to look out into an audience and see the diversity that we bring together. Naturally, we appeal to the South Asian community but people who aren’t familiar with Indian music feel our energy and sincerity in the music we play.”
The band was born on August 27, 2005, the day Sunny, a Punjabi Jain, was married. Thirty of his musician friends provided the band baaja to his baraat. Word soon spread about a marching band for Indian weddings. He put together a five-member team and they started playing at baraats in 2006. Since then, they have been performing at close to 30 weddings a year. While the wedding marching band boosted many festivities, Sunny had bigger plans. He wanted to start a band “where the dhol would be the lead Indian instrument, as opposed to the sitar or tabla”. He wanted a big band with a big sound, where all the instruments would be acoustic. More members were added and they started performing professionally as Red Baraat in 2008.
They released their debut album Chaal Baby last year, which received warm reviews for “providing numerous moments of unbridled joy”, and are now raising money for their second album Shruggy Ji.
The band has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, India Independence Day Parade (NYC) and Lincoln Center. Beside Sunny, the band includes Tomas Fujiwara on drumset, Mike Bomwell on baritone sax, Sonny Singh on trumpet and vocals, MiWi La Lupa on bass trumpet, Smoota on trombone, John Altieri on sousaphone, soprano sax player Arun Luthra and percussionist Rohin Khemani.
Sunny’s musical background resembles a tableau on globalisation. Having grown up in Rochester, NY, he started on percussion at age 10. His musical journey has taken him from bebop jazz to classic rock to Jain bhajans and Bollywood music. While studying jazz performance, he started learning the tabla. He picked up the dhol in 2003 after a tour to India.
It seems natural that New York, the city of many cities, is the birthplace of this sound. Sunny explains, “I wasn’t looking to recreate an Indian brass band, but a band that reflected my complete identity as an Indian-American. The America I was raised in intersected with people of all beliefs. While there is the Punjabi foundation with the dhol, there is also a host of other influences, namely funk, ska (from Jamaica), samba, jazz, rock, etc.”
Shruggy Ji, to be released in February 2011, will include a few Indian covers, like Lal Meri Pat and Chunari Chunari. The main attraction is that band members, who have backgrounds in Indian classical music and Afro-Cuban, R&B and pop, are contributing their own songs to it.
The band is yet to come to India. Sunny has performed with his jazz group Sunny Jain Collective at the Jazz Yatra in Delhi , and with Pakistani band Junoon in Delhi and Srinagar. We are still awaiting the baraat.
Red Baraat's Debut Album Scores
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Red Baraat’s music and its debut CD Chaal Baby are a study in contrasts. The earthy dhol punctuates ...Red Baraat’s music and its debut CD Chaal Baby are a study in contrasts. The earthy dhol punctuates the sophisticated strains of jazz; the improvisational jazz is kept in check by the homogenous sound of the baraat band (a baraat is a wedding procession); the tipsy “Dum Maro Dum” leads to the intellectual flight of a “Baraat to Nowhere.”
It is difficult to not be utterly astonished by the sound of Red Baraat. Red Baraat has nine members of varied ethnic and musical backgrounds playing at least ten instruments, including the uncommon South Indian tavil and the Arabic-Greek doumbek. Sunny Jain is the founder of the band. In his words, “I wanted a raw, organic primal sound of drums and horns—no electrified instruments-—and the ability for this band to perform without being miked up. I love that people hear different things in our music from jazz, to bhangra, funk, New Orleans brass bands, rock, African, and Brazilian.”
Listening to “Balle Balle,” the first number, will give you pause; Chaal Baby makes you wonder exactly what it is you’re listening to. By the end of the third track, you’re trawling the Internet for videos—seeing is believing, right? Wrong. The sense of amazement lingers on. Models at NYC Fashion Week sashaying to baraat-style music?
It’s easier for non-Indians to accept this music at face value; “a raucous, blaring, clashing celebration of a multitude of cultures come together as one joyous explosion.” Desis fresh from the homeland associate the baraat band with a wedding. Desis born in the United States wouldn’t think of fusing the revered jazz-quartet sounds with the effervescent dhol. It takes time to get over the shock. But then the “Bangin Bhangra and Brass Funk” groove starts to settle in. The open-air rendition of “Tunak Tun” at the Lincoln Center is not just infectious, it’s visual heroin—just watching them make music is a shot of pure adrenalin.
So how did Sunny Jain think of it? It turns out Sunny had his musician buddies play at his own wedding in 2005. Word spread about this new baraat band and yes, for three years, these musicians played at Indian weddings before becoming the current Red Baraat! “Some of the most exuberant celebrations of love I have witnessed have been at Indian weddings,” reminisces John Altieri (sousaphone).
The visual transference of the Red Baraat sound is not accidental. Each artist has played with one or more band members before going “dhol-n-brass.” Altieri was pals with Michael MiWi La Lupa William (bass trumpet) at the Eastman School of Music; Jain played with the latter’s band Thought, in NYC; Fujiwara and David “Smoota” Smith (trombone) had both played for the band Burnt Sugar. The connections between the musicians seem contrastingly improvised and selective, like their music. That the group does it with a masterful abandon is another reason they’re getting recognition. The melodies are discussed as a group; the main melodies are largely owned by one musician during rehearsal. Though “when we hit the stage in front of a dancing audience, it changes, and you never know what to expect,” says William.
A key catalyst for their new sound is that each is an accomplished musician in his own right. Arun Luthra (soprano saxophone) has his own quartet called Svaha. Mike Bomwell (baritone saxophone) has served as Director of Jazz Improvisation for the University of Michigan. Sonny Singh (trumpet) co-founded bands Turban Jones and Outernational. Rohin Khemani has been performing from the age of six through Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music. Tomas Fujiwara (drums) is an ex-STOMPer and leads his quintet—Tomas Fujiwara and The Hook Up. William has recorded with several groups, including Brazilian Girls. Altieri has performed solo, chamber and orchestra music all over the world. Smith leads the band The Perfect Man. Jain made his professional debut in Bombay Dreams and has drummed/ composed for the likes of Norah Jones and Junoon. Chaal Baby stays true to its baraat band roots and borrows from popular Bollywood hits such as “Mehndi Lagake Rakhna.” The jazzy “Arcana” has the least band-like sound, while the title track is named after the beats of the dhol-chaal (gait). Both have been intelligently composed and skillfully played.
The likeliest innovation to be adopted, of all the Red Baraat contributions to music, is the addition of the dhol to jazz. However, their key sound—the raw baraat band—could prove to be a landmine: It is over-whelming at times for the CD. They could perhaps cultivate the solo-listener audience separately from the dancing crowds by flexing the band sound-muscle just the right amount.
Such a great inter-genre musical experiment should not cater to just the live audience; a minimalist style of their performing music will be just as rousing for the car or at-home listener.
All tracks of Chaal Baby can be heard at www.redbaraat.com.
Priya Bhatt is an avid follower of world music. She has had training in Indian classical music and continues being a student in spirit.
Critics Choices - Chicago Folk & Roots Festival
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ndian brass-band music remains largely unknown in the West, but its furious polyphonic puffing and r...ndian brass-band music remains largely unknown in the West, but its furious polyphonic puffing and rollicking grooves are a staple at wedding celebrations on the subcontinent. New York percussionist Sunny Jain, the son of Punjabi immigrants, has an abiding interest in musical hybrids—his recent recent Taboo (Brooklyn Jazz Underground) is a thoughtful adaption of the ghazal form for jazz quartet—and he formed RED BARAAT as an Indian brass band with a distinctly American flavor. The group combines the fizzy, exuberant melodies of bhangra—along with its propulsive dhol drumming—with the second-line funk of a New Orleans funeral, and pulls it off without insulting either tradition. The nonet's debut album, this year's Chaal Baby (Sinj), is as smart as it is fun, balancing busy, irresistible beats with high-level horn blowing on both sturdy original songs and bhangra hits by the likes of Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh. The record is great, but onstage Red Baraat are even better, winding up the crowd with shouts of encouragement and boisterous audience invasions till they've turned the show into a dance party.
Best of the World Music Festival
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Another surreptitiously American Band, Red Baraat, blows audiences away with an East-meets-West mela...Another surreptitiously American Band, Red Baraat, blows audiences away with an East-meets-West melange. Dubbing themselves "bangin' bhangra and brass," the funky Brooklynites raise a ruckus with scampering dhol drumming, honking tubas and battered bugles - somewhere between Bollywood and a New Orleans marching band. It's the only group here that can claim to have played a runway show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
Yes in My Backyard
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Brooklyn nine-piece party-starters Red Baraat are thus far the most exciting local prospect of this ...Brooklyn nine-piece party-starters Red Baraat are thus far the most exciting local prospect of this
short year, a fiery blend of raucous Indian bhangra and funky New Orleans brass. Yeah that's
right--New York doesn't even have a fusion restaurant that mixes those two. The result, needless
to say, is completely riotous, a blustery groove machine with the comforting hoot of a tuba, two
backbeats fighting for attention, saxophones that spiral and wail, and the violent percussive
scamper of a lead dholi Sunny Jain. Their debut CD, Chaal Baby (available now for download,
and in physical form at their CD release party on the 30th) is an unstoppable blend of Bollywood
hijacks and funk freakier than anything Madlib picked up on his trip to India. Opening track
"Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle)" is a cover of a track featured in the Bollywood rom-com
Bride and Prejudice, but Red Baraat kicks it up until the drums are tommygun blasts and the
melody is a punkish scream.
On the Verge: 5 Artists You Should Know About
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Not long after Sunny Jain got married, he started receiving phone calls. For his wedding in 2005, Ja...Not long after Sunny Jain got married, he started receiving phone calls. For his wedding in 2005, Jain had assembled a traditional Indian marching band, for the baraat processional. “When you go to India, people listen to Punjabi bhangra music and Bollywood film music,” Jain says, and when word spread through New York’s South Asian community that there was a baraat brass band in town, the gigs started coming. Jain, who has spent the past half-decade fusing Indian music with jazz as the drummer and leader of the Sunny Jain Collective, saw an opportunity. Adding a trap kit to his dhol drum and Indian brass, he found something new: a ridiculously ecstatic ensemble. “It’s sort of akin to Afrobeat,” he says of his groove-heavy nine-piece Red Baraat, that mixes traditional bhangra jams, Bollywood covers and new originals on Chaal Baby. “I wanted to have a straight-up primal sound with horns and drums and absolutely no amplified instruments,” he says. Adapted for drums, kerhawa rhythms aren’t too far removed from New Orleans funk, particularly in live settings as Jain and company frequently crowd into already-crowded rooms like Brooklyn’s Barbés. Calling it a party doesn’t quite cut it. But when there’s no room to dance—or march, even—that’s probably the best word.
Red Baraat has a deep catalog of music to present for any occasion, ranging from fresh, original compositions to famous songs originating from the Indian sub-continent; songs that are centuries old that most South Asian in the world recognize, to Bollywood classics, to hits from the current era found in Slumdog Millionaire or dance floors throughout India. Sets can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.
Red Baraat’s repertoire consists of:
Mehndi Laga Ke Rakna
Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai
Baraat To Nowhere
Mundian To Bach Ke
Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle)
Dum Maro Dum
Drum ‘n’ Brass
Tunak Tunak Tun
Lal Meri Pat
There are no upcoming dates at this time.