Rum Velvet is a brass band world fusion outfit from Chicago. Their album Cocktail Fever Dreams is a joy that I have been enjoying for the last few months but not had the time or space to write about. This is a sadness, because you (dear listener) have missed out on Rum Velvet due to my busyness. Let’s correct the error!
While Rum Velvet draws on tons of world styles, the basic chassis of most tunes here is gypsy brass. You might be familiar with gypsy brass via the manic stylings of indie lifers Gogol Bordello even if you don’t know the name of the style. Rum Velvet takes a big sousaphone low end, undergirds with headbobbing rhythm, mixes in big horn lines, and sprinkles fun melodic solos on top. It is, first and foremost, fun party music.
They accent their main forms with melodic ideas from all over. Opener “Kinky Afternoon” sounds like a madcap whirl through a weirdo Big Easy Second line jam. “Fin Du Monde” offers up a big blast of klezmer-inflected enthusiasm. “Bangalore Data Transfer” does indeed call up visions of certain types of Indian music in its rat-a-tat rhythmic and melodic choices. “Baladi” is straight-up gypsy jazz, offering up a smoother, quieter (-er, always -er, here) take on the big brass band. “Fela Musala” is a fun piece that seems to invoke Fela Kuti in the title and has tinges of afrobeat in it–but it sounds more gypsy jazz than afrobeat. No matter what type of vibe they’re going for, Rum Velvet’s Cocktail Fever Dreams is a blast of fun that I have been enjoying for a while. You may enjoy them for a while too!