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T.O.K. Rhythm & Brass was founded out of a need of bringing ASAMBEHO music to a large international audience.
ASAMBEHO has existed since the 1960's and was created on the island of Aruba (Dutch Antilles).
From the beginning this music has been played by the so-called Arubian and Antillian brass bands during the carnival season.
In the 1980's The Netherlands got acquainted with the phenomenon Arubian brass bands. These bands consisted of Arubian/Antillian students in Holland who wanted to continue their hobby. These brass bands were also a form of social gathering for the students. They performed mainly at the Caribbean carnival parades and small outdoor events in Holland and Belgium.
Although it was obvious that the European public loved the music, these bands were never really taken seriously. This due to the poor musical quality especially of the brass section, the lack of choreography and promotional work.
T.O.K. Rhythm & Brass has managed to tackle the above mentioned issue with great succes. T.O.K. has now got a top class brass section whilst retaining a smashing rhythm section.
In addition much attention is paid on choreography and presentation. As a result of this professional approach, T.O.K. performed at events nobody thought an ASAMBEHO band would (check out the highlights). And this is just the beginning. Our device is "The sky is the limit"!
T.O.K. Rhythm & Brass can perform with deferent casts:
10 musicians (only for small indoor parties/events)
30 musicians (only for large events)
T.O.K. Rhythm & Brass can also perform in combination with:
Exotic dancers, Fakir show, Limbo show, Steelband, a.o
T.O.K. Rhythm & Brass is under the direction of Nelson Abraham
The brass bands on Aruba play a style of music known as the Arubian Asambeho. The music was especially developed on Aruba to provide musical accompaniment for carnival jump-ups and costume parades. San Nicolas musicians Arnold Beybe (a member of the San Nicolas YMCA), and his colleague Samuel Hodge began to develop the Asambeho in the 1960s. They blended the music of samba, the calypso, and marching bands, to produce a brass band music with a sound, rhythm and beat suitable for dancing. The tune of the Asambeho is carried by wind instruments - the trumpet, trombone, and saxophone, while the beat is carried by a bass drum, a light drum, and a snare drum. The name Asambeho is derived from the names of the two authors -- Arnold SAMuel BEyde HOdge. Asambeho music made its debut in 1967 when the brass band accompanied the Goldfinger Fan Club carnival group.
Brass band music had arrived much earlier on Aruba, however, when initial steps were taken for the formation of the first Arubian brass band at the Pan-Am Club in San Nicolas in February of 1930. On March 7th, 1930 the Aruba Refinery Brass band was established with between 20 and 25 musicians. The fact that the Asambeno has been embraced by all Arubians has made the music new symbol of national identity. A recent comment by Minister for Health, Sport and Culture, Dr. Lili Beke, states that:
One of the treasures of our island is the rhythm born here, ASAMBEHO, which will finally receive its place. Information on the Asambeho has been compiled and will be distributed to all official channels. It will become another identity of Aruba, just like our language, Papiamento.
Source: The News, Aruba, Thursday, January 9, 1997
The best carnival quality of brass bands is that you cannot separate the visual form the musical experience. You have to see them performing, to really enjoy their music it is in the nature of the brass bands to be moving, even when the members only shift weight form one leg to the other following the rhythm. In this sense, brass bands illustrate the existential parameters of the carnival's here and now. With the thunder of the drums preceding them causing hearts to jump, Aruba's brass bands pass down the island's streets in the biggest parades, handsome in their new official attire. Scottish plaids, white-and-gold marching bands uniforms, African folk dress, or just plain t-shirts with a sponsor's logo are equally fascinating when you see a band averaging twenty musicians appearing down the street in an orderly manner. The stunning contrast to the tidy approach is the wild, infectious drum beat that culminates in the crescendo provided by the trumpets, and the impetuous dance of the younger audience who follow the bad in small scattered groups.
Often, a heavy, colourful flag with the band's logo, hoisted on a tall pole and strapped to the waist of a band member at the helm, adds to the official looks saved for the Grand Parade of San Nicolas and the Grand Parade of Aruba. Then comes the bandleader, who conducts the band with a whistle. The whistle's high-pitched sound becomes a part of the rhythm especially when it gives the sign for breaks - the ensuing overflowing music sends everyone in a dancing frenzy. The current trend among Aruban brass bands is to play medleys of popular songs, and the musicians frequently join in chorus at breaks. More often, the brass bands make their performance attractive by small dance shows. During the reign of Sac'e Boem Boem song, many a brass band would "hit the floor" as much as the heavy instruments would allow.
Brass bands play all season long probably more than other music groups - they are instrumental in the queen elections, where their beat spices up the noise expressing a support for a candidate; and at jump-ups, unheard of without the presence of a brass band.
Brass bands have been heard on Aruba since the 1950s. Those were community bands, and played mostly marching music for official occasions. In the 1960's Arnold Beyde, the leader of the San Nicolas Y.M.C.A. community band, and his friend Samuel Hodge, decided to form a brass band for the carnival. They found a set of brass instruments, recruited musicians from the schools, and started to improvise looking for the rhythm best suited for the carnival. The band made its public debut in 1967, as part of the Goldfinger Fan Club group, named after the James Bond movie.
Beyde and Hodge invented the steady beat, influenced by the rhythms of samba, calypso and march, that is today recognized as the brass band rhythm of Aruba. The basic rhythm is stable, dictated by the heaviest drums, and combined with the more developed beat of the lighter drums and snare.
The tune is carried over by the wind instruments - trumpets, trombones and saxophone - into an exciting climax.In 1985, the island's Institute of Culture opened a contest to find a name for the Aruba brass band rhythm. The winning entry was ASAMBEHO, which combines the names of the two founders, Arnold Beyde and Samuel Hodge.
Beyde and Hodge invented the steady beat, influenced by the rhythms of samba, calypso and march, that is today recognized as the brass band rhythm of Aruba. The basic rhythm is stable, dictated by the heaviest drums, and combined with the more developed beat of the lighter drums and snare. The tune is carried over by the wind instruments - trumpets, trombones and saxophone - into an exciting climax.In 1985, the island's Institute of Culture opened a contest to find a name for the Aruba brass band rhythm. The winning entry was ASAMBEHO, which combines the names of the two founders, Arnold Beyde and Samuel Hodge.
For years, the brass bands used to assemble at a stadium one evening in the season for a musical battle. At stake was a bands reputation not only in skill, but also endurance to keep a complicated rhythm the longest. This tradition has stopped, but the best brass band of the season is still awarded the title Brass Band of the Year.
Each year at least six brass bands often dissolve and join up with each other - as a rule, this music appeals to the younger musicians, who try their skills playing in a brass band before continuing their rise toward the musical stardom on the island
Source: Aruba Carnival (pages 29,30,31)
Here are a few events where T.O.K. Rhythm & Brass has performed;
North Sea Jazz, EURO 2000, African Doctors Gala, Sommercarnaval in Rotterdam (on the main stage), Antilliaansefeesten Hoogstraaten (on stage), National wedding party Willem Alexander & Maxima in Amsterdam, Television: All you need is Love, Televisiering, Big Diet),
World Press Photo Gala, Musical Barcelona in Event Center Aalsmeer.
The band performed a few times with the famous Dutch saxophone player Hans Dulfer and even appears on his cd "El Saxofon Part II".
We also performed with Guus Meeuwis & Vangant during his concert in Ahoy Rotterdam