Band of brothers hitting the high notes
Six of the seven CedarBridge Academy students who make up Brothers in Music were seated and one was missing.
When the last member of the band who finished runners-up in the Bermuda Festival's On Stage Competition arrived, his bandmates did not let him off easy.
“When we started, Nick was really behind most of the time,” teased his bandmate Taye Fishington.
“It was hard to keep up in rhythm and tempo. Over the years we have definitely gotten better.”
Their sense of humour means they rarely shut off the jokes, but they're serious about their sound.
The On Stage competition was a first at the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, and it was also the group's first.
Bermuda School of Music's string ensemble pipped them to the post for band winner. Singer Indigo Adamson took home the top prize.
The band agreed afterwards that their choreography could use some work.
Saxophonist Tylar Jones said: “We know what we messed up on — choreography, intonation.”
The 17-year-olds formed the band three years ago.
Jesaiah Talbot, Trezeke Crofton, Taye Fishington, Nicholas Davis and Tylar Jones are the longest standing members. Shaqcoy Fox, also 17, joined at the beginning of last summer; 13-year-old Anderson Jno Baptiste is their newest member.
“Talent” and “friendship” are what set them apart.
“There's always been a CedarBridge band but it hasn't been something as refined as this,” Tylar said.
“We're probably the first band out of CedarBridge Academy to make almost a profession out of what we do and branch away from the CedarBridge Academy band.”
The group was started by former student Jordan Simmons-Trott to perform at the Alpha Beautillion. They enjoyed it so much, they kept playing.
Their repertoire follows that of New York brass funk group Lucky Chops. Jesaiah arranges the music.
“It varies from funk to pop to hip-hop to jazz,” Taye explained.
Tylar said: “My inspiration to play the baritone sax comes from Leo Pellegrino, who was also part of Lucky Chops, but is now part of the band named Too Many Zooz.
“He's a phenomenal baritone saxophonist and one day I hope to either meet him or surpass him in his skill, so I can claim my right to the top.”
Trezeke has played the trumpet for seven years, Nicholas has been on the tuba for the same amount of time.
Shacqoy plays the alto saxophone, Taye's on the trombone, Anderson's on the tenor sax and Tylar plays the baritone and the bass clarinet.
“It's my job to keep everyone else in time,” said Jesaiah who plays the drums. All seven switch their instruments for the CedarBridge band, which is made of approximately 30 students.
Tylar, who also plays with the Bermuda Youth Orchestra said he manages his musical commitments by “trying not to go insane”.
He said: “The mouthpieces vary in size and shape and you have to warm up differently with each instrument. It takes a different embouchure, which is the shape that your mouth makes when you play an instrument and it's hard to manage that but if you keep practicing then you'll be able to master it.”
All agreed that managing the different instruments is a bigger challenge than juggling rehearsals with their academics. With the concert one week and the exams the next, they said it was “not really” a tough balance.
“We're all at the top of our classes,” Trezeke said.
“You would not think it when you look at us,” Jesaiah laughed.
“Whenever I have my free periods, I'm usually in here practicing or finding new stuff.”
Anderson hopes to continue playing with the rest of the band who will all graduate this summer.
The next year should hold plenty of opportunity as they plan to start busking in town.
They have played at different venues around the island, including the Simons Brothers' tour, schools and rest homes and hope to make a legitimate business out of it in the future.
Jesaiah, Anderson and Taye all agreed that they would like to pursue careers in music.
The others have similarly lofty plans.
Trezeke dreams of being a marine biologist, Nicholas wants to be an astrophysicist, with Taye an accountant.
Shacqoy is looking at hospitality management with a view to travelling the world.
Tylar said: “Obviously, I'd like to keep music on the side because I still have to surpass Leo Pellegrino, but what I would like to do is study hospitality and own my own restaurant.”
A keen baker, Tylar works at Café Lido part time and has accepted a post alongside executive chef Ricardo Cera at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club.
Six band members do not come from musical backgrounds, Jesaiah's the exception. His great uncles were calypso legends The Talbot Brothers.
“It must have skipped a generation because my dad has no rhythm whatsoever,” he laughed.
The rest of the group picked it up in middle school. They all love performing.
Tylar said: “I was very nervous for my first solo. It was one of the first songs we played from Lucky Chops, Coco. I was very nervous because I had never had to step up to a challenge like that in a public setting. It was for an assembly at school. Lots of people say, don't be nervous, there's a bunch of people that you know, but you don't want to disappoint. There's a lot of pressure but I came through and pulled it together.”
He added: “We hope that lots of people support the festival.”
• Brothers in Music will play alongside Indigo Adamson, the Bermuda School of Music string ensemble and Shun Ng at the On Stage Performance on Tuesday evening at the Earl Cameron Theatre, City Hall. Tickets are available at ptix.bm
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