Musicians of Queens: Black Tie Brass


From the moment you put on one of Black Tie Brass’ songs, you are transported to a world of jazz and funk. This is not your typical genre band though. The seven-piece incorporates rock and hip-hop into its sound as well, creating a fresh chemistry that will keep you coming back for more.

Although the band itself only started in May 2013, its musicians have been playing together since September 2008. Trombonist Ryan McNulty, trumpeter Randolph Smith, saxophonist Mike Alvarez, guitarist Al Marino, keyboardist Jason Reese, bassist Charles Jourdan and drummer Glenn Chiarello all met at Long Island University C.W. Post through a jazz band.

The band’s unique blend of genres allows it to spread its wings and create a tight energy that any music lover can enjoy. It also gives them flexibility when putting together their live set, a mix of covers and originals.

“Our group sound has evolved from very straight forward jazz to an amalgamation of so many different styles,” McNulty said. “In one set, we can jump from Miles Davis to Stevie Wonder to Bruno Mars. In our own compositions, those changes happen in one song.”

Those compositions slowly evolve from the bare bones version that McNulty puts together. Each member of the band brings his personal style to the song, adding layer after layer until the track is complete.

Songs are also recorded as one take, rather than using the multi-track recording method. Black Tie Brass does this to capture the spontaneity of their sound.

“We actually want to capture the organic nature of the music we create,” Jourdan said. “Funk is not created in the studio. Funk is created on the spot as we go.”

That level of improvisation also comes through when the band plays live, with extended jams pushing the songs beyond their natural run time.

“Our favorite covers are definitely Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ and Average White Band’s ‘Pick Up the Pieces.’ They really show off our horn section and style,” McNulty said. “Each song sometimes takes 10 minutes live. I guess you can say that we really like to play!”

Black Tie Brass set up a Kickstarter to support the creation of their first full-length album. The record will have five tracks, with four originals and a cover of “Red Clay” by Freddy Hubbard. The money they raise will go towards studio time, mastering and packaging. Any leftover cash will be dedicated to promotion.

As of press time, the Kickstarter, which ends on Aug. 1, has raised $2,041, closing in on its goal of $2,300.

The members of the band grew up in Queens and were influenced by the Borough’s diversity, particularly in terms of music.

“It has affected our careers by being around so many different styles of music,” McNulty said. “For example, sitting in traffic on the LIE, you will hear different music from every car you are near.”

For more information on the band and news about its Kickstarter and tour dates, visit