"Unexpected & Dynamic"
"Powerful, exhilarating arrangements"
"Joyful and sophisticated"
BRASS LASSIE, a bold trad band based in the Twin Cities of St. Paul/Minneapolis, combines traditional tunes, songs and style with dazzling modern horn lines, sparking their own genre of eclectic, remarkable music. The ensemble performs extraordinary takes on Scottish, Irish and French music, traditional and new, featuring a powerful 4-piece horn section, a terrific rhythm section, fiddle, flutes, pipes and vocals, plus occasional percussive dance. Their smart, joyous horn arrangements are by top-notch jazz arranger Peter Enblom, plus a couple of great ensemble arrangements from Dr. David Milne.
Brass Lassie's members have come together from a broad spectrum of sonic arts: traditional music, big bands, show bands, jazz, orchestral, roots & world music. Their rich repertoire includes traditional and new Irish reels, jigs and hornpipes, Scottish and French-Canadian tunes, ancient Irish airs, Cape Breton dance tunes and puirt à beul (mouth music), new arrangements of Scots Gaelic waulking songs, music from Brittany and Central France, Scottish ballads with a big band spirit, and even Latin-infused Celtic dance tunes.
Their influences are the likes of La Bottine Souriante, Altan, Liz Carroll, Salsa Celtica, Tom Orr, Habadekuk - while their sound and spirit are distinctly Brass Lassie in concept and delivery.
Brass Lassie's founder, Laura MacKenzie, carefully envisioned this big band for several years. It was realized at last in 2016 with a triumphant summer debut. The group has released their first studio album, with more recordings in store - join the mailing list for updates!
Our current members:
Laura MacKenzie - wooden flutes, whistles, concertina, pipes, vocals; founder & director
Mary Vanorny - fiddle
Patrice Pakiz - piano
Michael Bissonnette - percussion
Gary Rue - bass
The Brass Lassie Horns: Tricia Lerohl - French horn; Peter Enblom - trombone; Dave Budimir - bass trombone; Beckett Shuholm - trumpet
Guest percussive dance, from The Flying Foot Forum
LIVE VIDEOS: VIDEO
LONGER BIO: BIOGRAPHY
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GOOD PRESS: QUOTES
Praise for brass lassie:
"The joyful and sophisticated sounds of Brass Lassie fully achieve what in my experience is a very rare feat of genre-blending - combining traditional Irish, Scottish and French music played and sung by a brilliant frontline with authoritative and tasteful jazz influenced arrangements from a great full horn section and some fabulous drums and bass. I enjoy every minute of their music!" -- Dáithí Sproule, of Altan
"Groundbreaking" ; "This mini-orchestra grabs you by the ears and won't let go. It could be the biggest thing to happen to North American Celtic music, ever!"
--Phil Nusbaum, KBEM Jazz88
“Brass Lassie takes a solid rhythm section, a group of stellar Celtic musicians on strings, woodwinds and a variety of instruments, adds a big BOLD horn section. The result, thanks to superior playing and fresh arrangements, is absolutely infectious. It isn’t watered down Irish and Scots music; it isn’t big band. It’s a driving fusion of Celtic and soul music, with a touch of jazz that is unique. It astonishes me, makes me laugh, it makes me want to dance, and most of all it makes me want to hear MORE Brass Lassie.” --- Dan Pinkerton, Minneapolis playwright and lyricist
"Their music is bold, joyous, highly infectious and probably unique...They’d be a gas on stage."
-- fROOTS (U.K.)
"Refreshing, wide-ranging and highly entertaining."
--Irish Music Magazine (Dublin)
"To have horns (not to mention a great bass and drum backup) on traditional tunes was an unexpected and dynamic change that did not lose the songs or tunes in the transition but actually brought them forward. The musicianship was excellent all the way across the stage. Bravo!" -- Bob Douglas, Powdermilk Biscuit Band, The New Prairie Ramblers
"Powerful, exhilarating arrangements and delivery by ten of the best. A superlative triumph in every sense of the word." -- Gary Rue, New Music Arts
“We here on the committee love music and ya’ll brought the real stuff...Brass Lassie was a fave experience of the weekend of many people I have spoken with who attended…more folks should hear you all…!” -- Rock Bend Folk Festival
"I saw two sets of music by Brass Lassie at the Minnesota State Fair - They were amazing! I'm a fan of Celtic traditional music, and there was plenty of that – flutes, pipes, fiddles, dancing – but I also love jazz and Duke Ellington and Miles, etc., and there was plenty evoking that musical world, too, a whole repertoire based on horns and down south rhythms. Go hear them." ---Sam Dillon, Pulitzer Prize journalist, New York Times, Miami Herald
"With Brass Lassie, Laura MacKenzie brings muscle to her music." -- Euan Kerr, MPR news