Favela Brass received a very special visit during Rio Carnival this year. The New York Brass Band are a 7-piece brass band who are actually from "old" York in England. Those who have been following the project for a while may recognise some of the names on this list:
James Lancaster (tuba, leader)
Stuart MacDonald (tenor sax)
Dan Webster (trumpet)
Chris Williamson (trumpet)
Joe Epstein (guest trumpet)
Stuart Garside (trombone)
Charlie Lancaster (trombone)
John Settle (drums)
Before coming to visit the band raised £1,412.50 for the project through concerts and CD sales, and since their sax player, Stuart MacDonald, owns a music shop, they were then able to subsequently use that cash to buy 7 brand-new alto saxophones at trade price. Favela Brass is expanding into the local state schools this year, and this will be absolutely vital in allowing us to include saxophones as part of our program.
As well helping us with this amazing donation, the band also inspired our children musically, playing for and with them on various different occasions during the week. Here's Stuart MacDonald trading sax licks with Favela Brass student Andre at the community restaurant, ABCD:
Stuart also provided an immense service to the project by getting up early every morning to fix instruments. No less than 8 trumpets and 2 saxophones were brought back into action this way. And he fixed our tuba. And the euphonium. Not to mention the air conditioner and the front door...
The band were a huge hit with the locals when they joined in with the street festivities. So much so that they now have more followers on Instagram in Rio de Janeiro than in York, and even made it into Rio's main print newspaper, O Globo. Here they are in action during the parade of the Boitolo street band:
Another highlight was NYBB taking a leading role in Rio's first jazz Carnival parade, Bloco Mardi Gras, on Fat Tuesday:
The children themselves performed beautifully at their own parade in our favela, Pereira da Silva. This would almost certainly have been the only parade of its kind actually inside a favela during Carnival and was very well received indeed by the local residents. Nice to see the children singing the Carnival songs this year as well:
It really has been an amazing week and we are very grateful indeed to the New York Brass Band and all those who contributed to their fund raising efforts for the lift their visit has given us.