The Heavyweights Brass Band have built a reputation as Canada's reigning champions of feel-good horn music. Over the last decade they have toured extensively and shared the stage with Trombone Shorty, The Roots, Galactic, and The Soul Rebels, among many others. Their unique style never fails to move any audience, and has earned them a loyal following from fans across all genres.
The secret to the Heavyweights reach can be found in the folk origins of jazz. Following in the footsteps of the originators, their music is shaped not only by their environment but by traditions dating back centuries, creating an alchemy which has universal appeal. Happily at home on stage with such diverse artists as Jane Bunnett, Jay Douglas, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Treme Brass Band, the Heavyweights roll with the punches and always deliver a knockout blow.
Their third full length album, This City, was recorded in New Orleans and features an abundance of Crescent City Talent, alongside a few perennial Heavyweights collaborators. Joe Lastie (Preservation Hall) and Ashlin Parker (Trumpet Mafia) light it up on the opening track, while the crafty Eugene Grant calls the shots. Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) steps in to wail, and Marla Dixon (Shotgun Jazz Band) leads the dance party down on the corner. Add to this Canada's reigning queen of jazz, blues and gospel Jackie Richardson and the iconic and legendary Kevin Breit on guitar, and you have a record which will knock your socks off.
Chris Butcher, trombone
Christopher Butcher is a musician firmly established as a representative of Toronto's global music village, transcending genre and cultural predisposition, and pleasing audiences across the world. As a first rate trombone player, an up-and-coming record producer, a busy session musician, a radio host/producer and co-leader of The Heavyweights Brass Band, Christopher Butcher illustrates a promising portrait of an influential career in music. Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Christopher moved to Toronto in his late teens and quickly built a solid reputation as one of Canada's top trombone players in Toronto's vibrant jazz and world music scenes, playing in the bands of many of the country's most prestigious artists, including Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, Archie Alleyne and Jay Douglas, among many others. On occasion Christopher has recorded or played with some of the finest international artists like The Sugarhill Gang, Gloria Gaynor, David Clayton-Thomas, Ernest Ranglin, Changuito, Giovanni Hidalgo, La India, Paul Shaffer, Nikki Yanofsky and Randy Bachman. In 2013 Christopher was nominated for a Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts and formed Street Brass with Uma Nota Culture, a community based ensemble that teaches and performs brass band music of the Americas. Look for him in 2014!
Paul Metcalfe, saxophones
With an extensive background in jazz and funk, Paul is one of the grittiest sax players around. His playing has taken him across Canada touring venues such as the Montreal Jazz Festival and opening for Herbie Hancock and Kool and the Gang. He has recorded a number of albums including Second Ring, with funk/dance group Moses Mayes, which received the Western Canadian Music Award for Best Instrumental Album. Along with the Heavyweights, Paul’s funky sound can be heard around Toronto with the likes of the Toronto Jazz Orchestra, Drumhand, The Ken McDonald Quartet, Big Rude Jake, The Carissa Neufeld Quartet, and The Mike Field Quintet, among others.
John Pittman, trumpet
One of Toronto's busiest hornmen, John Pittman is in high demand as both a soloist and lead player on the jazz, commercial and salsa scenes because of his big sound, high energy and melodicism. Pittman is the winner of several awards including the Shirmer Prize and Raymond Wright Scholarship. While he considers the Heavyweights his home, Pittman can also be heard playing regularly with The Toronto Jazz Orchestra, Conjunto Lacalu, The Lula All-Stars and the Yani Borrell Orchestra. In addition to performing, Pittman is a passionate educator who places a priority on developing the improvisational and creative skills of young musicians. He has served as an adjudicator, guest artist and clinician throughout Canada and the United States and currently teaches at The Sterling Hall School.
Tom Richards, sousaphone
Tom Richards is a trombonist, pianist, composer, conductor, and low-brass specialist. He leads an alt-electro-jazz quartet called Riverrun and is a sideman in dozens of active projects. Riverrun has become well known for pushing the boundaries of conventional practice through the radical use of technology and the staging of 12-hour marathon performances. As a trombonist, Tom has recorded and performed with The Wooden Sky, The Hidden Cameras, Spoon, The Human Rights, Shred Kelly, The Thing Is, The Australian Art Orchestra, Drumhand, Theatre Columbus, and many others. Tom has written and performed several hundred pieces of original music, ranging from solo repertoire to large ensemble works. Tom's composition Full and Empty Barrel for trumpet and piano was premiered at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal Standard Life Competition in November, 2014. Tom's electro-acoustic piece Rosetta was premiered at Spectrum Music's Starry Night concert in February, 2015. Tom is the conductor of Sarah Jerrom's acclaimed “Yeats Project”, and in 2012 he conducted the debut of Ali Berkok’s original score for Eisenstein’s silent film “Battleship Potemkin”.
Lowell Whitty, drums
Lowell grew up in The Beaches of Toronto in a rowdy musical household that heavily embraced New Orleans Jazz, Funk and R&B. He has been drumming for as long as he can remember and has performed around the world in jazz festivals including Quarter Fest ’09 in New Orleans, JazzAscona and Rapperswil Blues & Jazz in Switzerland and Swing in Pic in Mortegliano, Italy. His infectiously energetic approach to the drums has kept him in demand in the Toronto scene. When Lowell isn’t bringing swampy grooves to the Heavyweights, he can be heard performing around town in many other projects such as Notes and Noodles, a group that plays his own compositions mixing elements of modern and free jazz with a rock band vibe.
Jon Challoner, trumpet
Jon is one of Canada’s most exciting and versatile trumpet players. His eclectic musical tastes have led him to work with some of the world’s finest in jazz, classical, pop, salsa and funk. Originally from Vancouver Island, he began his musical career under the tutelage of Canadian legends such as Ingrid Jensen, Arnie Chycoski and Phil Dwyer. He now lives in New York City, where he studies at the Juilliard School and performs at renowned venues like Lincoln Center, the Blue Note and Smalls. Jon has been awarded first place at the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition and second place in the Carmine Caruso Trumpet Competition. In addition to the Heavyweights, Jon has shared the stage with artists such as Dave Douglas, Seamus Blake, Paquito D’Rivera, and the Juno Award Winning John MacLeod Orchestra among many others