Mad Cow Marches

Mucca Pazza - Safety Fifth
Mucca Pazza

Safety Fifth (Electric Cowbell Records ECR 703, 2012)

As interest in brass bands increases worldwide, Mucca Pazza is another name to add to the list of brass bands calling for attention. If you are thinking New Orleans brass or Balkan style, think again. Mucca Pazza goes into uncharted territory, combining familiar brass band elements with zany explorations that recall some of the work by Frank Zappa and Captain Beefhart. Add to that retro electric guitars that go back all the way to the 1960s, adding a surf guitar component.

Mucca Pazza is a very large ensemble. The 30 piece outfit from Chicago describes itself as a “circus punk marching band.” Mucca Pazza means “crazy cow” in Italian. It is also a name for the Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (the human form of mad cow disease).

If some of Mucca Pazza‘s music sounds familiar it is because they play an eclectic mix of 1960s television show themes, Balkan brass pieces, tangos, marching band fanfares, and themes from Shostakovich and Bartok.

Th band’s debut album, A Little Marching Band, came out in 2006. Their second recording, Plays Well Together, was released in June 2008.

Mucca Pazza is divided into several sections:

Freaks: Greg Hirte, Gary Kalar, Ronnie Kuller, Jeff Thomas

Woodwinds: Dave Smith, Noah Tabakin, Dave Levine, Jay St. Germain

Trumpets: Justin Amolsch, Sam Johnson, Jim McBride, Susie Inverso, Nick Siegel

Bones: Nick Broste, Tom Howe, Elanor Leskiw, Ellis Seiberling

Sousaphone, etc.: Mark Messing

Percussion “K12”: Larry Beers, Paul Brannon, Andy Deitrich, Tony DiMartino, Rick Kubes, George Lawler, Ronnie Malley, Brent Roman, Jon Steinmeier

Cheerleaders: Tim Heck, Sharon Lanza, Meghan Strell, Vanessa Valiere, Lindsey Whiting

Safety Fifth showcases intriguing brass band music with a different wild twist.

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