The nine members of HBE, eight brothers and a cousin, come from an extraordinary musical family. All sisters, brothers and mothers are professional musicians, and Philip Cohran, their father, has roots running back to Mississippi, his time in the musical hothouse of 1940s St Louis, and his role with Sun Ra’s Arkestra in Chicago in the 1950s – but is perhaps best known as a founder of Chicago’s seminal jazz collective the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
The band embraces AACM’s collective approach to music making. However, the group strives to make its musical roots speak to and for its own generation, infusing imaginative jazz arrangements with a hip-hop sensibility. They started out busking in the streets of Chicago and eventually moved to New York. They have since performed with a wide range of artists, from Mos Def and Erykah Badu to Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, and have come to be known as one of the hottest and most individual bands around.