Grand Army blaster: Hundreds of musicians will perform on library steps

Grand Army blaster: Hundreds of musicians will perform on library steps
Bhangra on your drum: Sunny Jain, center, is the composer of “100+ BPM,” a song he will perform June 21 along with hundreds of other drummers and horn players.
Photo by Erin Patrice O’Brien

Prepare your drums — and your eardrums!

A small army of drummers and horn players will descend on the steps of the Central Library on June 21, blasting out a new piece by a Clinton Hill musician. Most of the participants will be playing the song together for the first time, but the composer said he isn’t worried.

“This is more about community than about sound,” said Sunny Jain, who dubbed the work “100+ BPM.” “I have no idea what it’s going to sound like, I have never done anything like this before.”

Jain is the founder of Red Baraat, an eight-piece party band that plays a fusion of North Indian bhangra music, New Orleans jazz, and hip-hop. Jain said he has long admired the communal music environment of New Orleans, where music-driven “second line” parades mark celebrations and funerals alike, drawing residents to the streets in droves. So when National Public Radio asked him to compose a piece for communal performance as part of Make Music New York — a citywide music festival that will unleash hundreds of free concerts in public spaces across town on the same day — he jumped at the chance to create a similar experience in his home borough.

“Down in New Orleans, everything you do involves music,” he said. “There’s certainly a great music community here, but it’s that idea of music spilling into the streets, people following along whether they play or not, that has been in my heart for a while.”

The call went out in May for percussionists and brass musicians of all stripes, and the organizers published the score online so that participants could practise it in advance. More than 100 players are expected to show up to perform on the day.

But the show will be not be amateurish, said Jain. In addition to whoever answers the open call, multiple professional drum lines — including those of the Giants, the Knicks, and the Jets — will take part in the piece.

The whole spectacle will be conducted by Jain’s Red Baraat bandmate John Altieri.

“I had the easy part in writing the piece,” Jain said. “A lot is resting on John’s shoulders.”

With Altieri at the helm, Jain will grab his dohl drum and join the scrum — just one musician among hundreds.

“I’ll just be up there, jumping for joy,” he said.

“100+ BPM” at the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza between Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, www.makemusicny.org). June 21 at 4:30 pm.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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