The Canadian Brass Gets a Major Reboot

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The Canadian Brass has probably done more to popularize the modern brass quintet than any ensemble before it. The group has managed to entertain audiences with popular arrangements and zany choreography but also appeal to brass aficionados with challenging renditions of Gabrieli, Palestrina and Bach.

The ensemble ushers in its 42nd year of performing with "Canadian Brass Takes Flight," its first release on the Steinway label and first album featuring a retooled lineup. Tuba player Chuck Daellenbach is the one remaining original member but the others – who have joined in the last decade -- all show a high standard of musicianship across the eighteen tracks.

Recorded in the glowing acoustics of Christ Church in Toronto, the ensemble achieves a mellow warmth in Dowland’s lovely lute song “Come Again, Sweet Love,” Brahms's choral prelude, Herzlich tut mich verlangen, and Scheidt’s echo-filled Galliard Battaglia.

Several Bach organ arrangements are chance to display the group’s sense of clarity, grace and phrasing. And the Brass players also show give ample attention to their lighter side in the suave “La Cumparsita” by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, the “Killer Tango” by Sonny Kompanek (better known for his score to “The Big Lebowski”), and several New Orleans numbers, including the Brass fan favorite, “Tuba Tiger Rag.”

Canadian Brass Takes Flight
Steinway and Sons
Available at

Jeff Spurgeon speaks with Charles "Chuck" Daellenbach:

On creating a brass quintet repertoire:

On how modern brass instruments evolved:

On the group's evolution and modern-day lineup:

On playing gold-plated brass instruments:

On getting a "more expensive sound":

On how WQXR once helped the Canadian Brass win a RCA contract: