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At the 2016 CMA Awards one sound burst from the stage like a thunderquake. Beyoncé performed “Daddy Lessons” accompanied by Dixie Chicks and Too Many Zooz — the New York City trio which originally recorded the song on the star’s Lemonade album — the trio bringing the sound of the street to Beyoncé’s glittering musical declaration. Glued to their smart phones, tablets, and TVs, America beheld Too Many Zooz’ innovative polyglot style.
Too Many Zooz’s baritone saxophonist Pellegrino, trumpeter Matt Doe, and drummer King of Sludge held Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena stage for mere minutes, but the same talent that moved Beyoncé to have the group record both “Daddy Lessons” and “Formation” on Lemonade has seen the trio sell thousands of CDs and downloads, and inspired viral videos liked by hundreds of thousands of Too Many Zooz’s fans, worldwide.
Too Many Zooz’s manic music, dubbed “BrassHouse” by drummer King of Sludge, is an irresistible rocket that combines styles more far-flung than any international space station. As heard on the group’s EPs, F NOTE, Fanimals, Brasshouse Volume 1: Survival of the Flyest, The Internet, and LP, Subway Gawdz, Too Many Zooz creates a visceral vocal-free smack-to-the-senses. TMZ’s Brasshouse summons EDM, house, techno, and glitch, paired to the indigenous punch of Cuban, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, and Brazilian Carnival rhythms, heightened by the dancing and saxophone soloing prowess of a bionic Pepper Adams. Like Nortec Collective mashed with Daft Punk by way of a mad sonic scientist, Too Many Zooz has conquered New York City—your headset’s resistance is futile.
Many New Yorkers found Too Many Zooz at the Union Square subway station, where the trio began busking in 2014. After one of TMZ’s videos went viral on Reddit, creating almost a million fans, sales of the band’s digital downloads and CD sales skyrocketed. If TMZ’s music wasn’t already electrifying, Leo Pellegrino’s dance moves, which spin like a Zoot-suit wearing swinger, add visual thrills to the band’s musical mastery. A classically trained musician, Pellegrino began dancing as both expression and rebellion. What Beyoncé loved is now available to all.
“Our music is a democracy,” Doe says. “From the start, we were all bouncing off each other, listening to each other and not thinking too much.”