Chanell Crichlow (M.M. tuba '10) and her ensemble, Pitchblak Brass Band, were featured in the February 2014 issue of Downbeat Magazine in an article titled "Getting Deep and Breaking Rules" by Jennifer ODell. The article discusses a new wave of brass bands that are blending New Orleans street music with hip-hop and rap to create a totally new art form.
The Pitchblak Brass Band is a ten-piece New York City-based ensemble of composers, producers, artists, and rappers who have performed together since 2010. Drawing upon its members’ diverse musical backgrounds, styles, and visions, PitchBlak mixes hip-hop and brass to create music that pulses with Afro-Caribbean beats, soaring jazz solos, and mind-melting guitar licks. They infuse their hip-hop-driven music with funk, rock, jazz, and classical. "Pitchblak percussionist and emcee Chris Johnson also works as a classical bass player; guitarist Ben Brody plays classical French horn; and about half the group wrote the original music that appears on their debut album, You See Us."
The band has performed at 66 Water Street in Brooklyn, the 92YTribeca, Southpaw, the Shrine, Spike Hill, and most recently headlined the first ever Brass Clash at the Brooklyn Bowl with the Underground Horns. In June 2011, PitchBlak participated in the acclaimed "Make Music New York" outdoor music festival, collaborating with hip-hop artist "We Stole the Show."
Band members are also active in community outreach programs and in classrooms throughout the city, teaching and mentoring other young musicians. PitchBlak’s members come to the band with an incredible diversity of musical background and training, infusing their hip-hop-driven music with funk, rock, jazz, and classical.
Chanell is a native New Yorker with strong roots in Trinidad, West Indies. She received her bachelor's degree at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Toby Hanks, and studied with Velvet Brown at Penn State. She has toured the Balkans with the Eli Yamin Blues Band through the United States State Department, and performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center. She has also played at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, and with Nedra Johnson and The Fatbottom Girls. While a student at Penn State, Chanell held the principal tuba position with the Nittany Valley Symphony.
Chanell Critchlow's photograph courtesy of Rebecca Emmanuelle Photography.