Brass pulls with rickshaw

A fascinating east-meets-west sound fusion should result when the Foothills Brass performs in Red Deer with autorickshaw.

Juno-nominated autorickshaw is itself a blend of music styles and rhythms; on Oct .22

Juno-nominated autorickshaw is itself a blend of music styles and rhythms; on Oct .22

A fascinating east-meets-west sound fusion should result when the Foothills Brass performs in Red Deer with autorickshaw.

The Toronto-based autorickshaw is a Juno Award-nominated contemporary jazz/funk ensemble that’s heavily influenced by the music of southern India. Formed in 2003, the group consists of singer Suba Sankaran as well as a bassist and two percussionists who studied with Sankaran’s father, Trichy, an internationally renowned professor of South Indian music at York University.

The Foothills Brass quintet was formed in Calgary 30 years ago, and performs everything from baroque and classical music to tunes by Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.

Bringing these two bands together for a collaborative concert on Friday, Oct. 22, at The Matchbox isn’t as unlikely a prospect as might first appear, said Chris Morrison, a trumpeter and co-founder of the Foothills Brass.

“The south Indian tradition includes working with brass instruments quite a bit, because of the British Empire connection,” he added. “Brass bands are famously British.”

And autorickshaw has performed with a brass band before — albeit a massive one, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, with 45 members. “That was a huge wall of sound,” recalled Sankaran, who believes the collaboration with the Foothills Brass will be quite a different experience.

“We’re pretty jazzed about it,” she added, noting her group members are already adapting some arrangements for the quintet.

Get ready for novel versions of classic Bollywood songs such as sultry Aaj Ki Raat (Tonight’s the Night) and Dil To Pagal Hai (This Heart is Crazy) — which will be sung mostly in pigeon English.

Although the chorus will be in Hindi, Sankaran said she translated all the verses into English — literally — “so they’ll make no sense at all . . . it’ll be like following the bouncing ball on subtitles.”

The concert will also feature everything from Bach to music from spaghetti westerns, Dizzy Gillespie (A Night in Tunisia) and Charlie Parker (Birdland), said Morrison. “We’ll be circling from west to east.”

The Foothills Brass includes trumpeter Jay Michalak, French horn player Joanna Schulz, trombonist Catie Hickey and tuba player Bob Nicholson.

Also in autorickshaw are tabla player Ed Hanley, percussionist Patrick Graham and bassist Dylan Bell.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $27.50 from The Matchbox box office.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com