The four-headed creature known as Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut is a rare creature indeed. With just four low brass instruments, this animal can make music that shrieks, howls, and purrs, all with an unrelenting energy and groove. Like all rare species, Big Sackbut has a fascinating evolutionary tree. Trombonist-leader Joe Fiedler illuminates that tree with a curated playlist of tunes from Big Sackbut’s ancestors: the group’s musical DNA — Kevin Laskey
1. “Hattie Wall,” World Saxophone Quartet
I’m pretty sure “Hattie Wall” was the first tune of the World Saxophone Quartet that I ever heard. It was their theme song and they would walk onstage playing it. The sheer power and authority with which all four of those guys played—the raw energy and the rhythmical cadence—was so stunning. It just hit me in the gut. I was hooked.
It’s such a simple tune and they could riff on that for ten minutes before going on to the solo section. Hamiet Bluiett would keep this Afro-Caribbean clave thing going. It would keep cycling and cycling; it was hypnotic. The way that the top three voices would improvise together and play off what everyone else was doing was just magical. They were so in tune with how each other was as an improviser.