The Canadian Brass, after a humble beginning in Toronto in late 1970, have evolved into arguably the most profoundly influential brass quintet ever. With a plethora of recordings (to date, over fifty) encompassing a wide range of musical styles, from the Goldberg Variations and The Art of Fugue of J.S. Bach to Scott Joplin to the world-famous arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee (played on tuba, no less), this group has brought a form of music that had long gone unnoticed into the mainstream.
- Charles Daellenbach, tuba: Still a highly influential member of the group, Chuck has remained an active member of CB since its founding, and has served as a centerpiece for many of the Brass' most famous pieces. On the surface, he doesn't seem like the kind of guy you'd expect to be a tubist; (he is relatively thin) -- however, he commands a powerful sound and can work miracles with his instrument - such as a full-octave pitch bend while lying down in one of his feature pieces, Frosty the Snowman (he's melting, get it?), and the mind-boggling Flight of the Tuba Bee.
- Eugene Watts, trombone/euphonium: Also still a member after three decades, Gene is equally capable of soft, understated sounds with a euphonium and powerful trombone. He is highly technically proficient (listen to him keep up with all the valved instruments in a "Presto" fugue), and also happens to be a very nice fellow.
- Graeme Page, french horn: During his 13 years with the brass, Graeme made his way onto many of the Brass' earliest and most well-known recordings, with his performances in the baroque pieces being especially noteworthy.
- Stuart Laughton and Bill Phillips, trumpet: These two members were in the group for one and two years, respectively, giving way to the more prestigious Ronald Romm and Fred Mills, who were responsible for arranging a great deal of the literature tackled by the Brass.
As of this writing, the Canadian Brass consists of Charles Daellenbach, Eugene Watts, Jeff Nelsen (french horn), Ryan Anthony (trumpet) and Joe Burgstaller (trumpet). Perhaps a more appropriate name for this group would be the North American Brass, as the last three members are from the United States.
The quintet is well-known for its flair in performance, incorporating stage business (a la the aforementioned Frosty the Snowman), crowd interaction (sing-alongs, playing from several points in the theater a la Gabrieli, and the like), and musical humor (not necessarily musician's jokes, but within the music itself; Victor Borge would be pleased). Heck, they even threw flash paper into one of their numbers (set off by the horn player, don't ask me where he had it hidden). It's this combination of stage presence and technical prowess that makes the Canadian Brass such an entertaining group.
You can easily recognize a member of the Canadian Brass by his custom-made, gold-plated Yamaha instruments and red/white shoelaces. They tour for a large portion of the year, performing and holding master classes in North America, Japan, and Europe, and often perform with other players in the Canadian Brass Big Band. They continue to bring forth new ideas in arranging and performance for small ensembles and and bridge the gap between chamber music and popular music.
Some information from www.canbrass.com.