Zoo animals don’t even have to be real to capture the imagination. Consider the cast of creatures populating the works of brasshouse pioneers Too Many Zooz.
Too Many Zooz, which features Leo “Leo P” Pellegrino on baritone saxophone, Matt “Matt Doe” Muirhead on trumpet and David “King of Sludge” Parks on drums, is heading to the Southern Cafe and Music Hall on Wednesday evening for its inaugural Charlottesville appearance. It’s safe to say grooves will abound when the founders of brasshouse — a dance-friendly summit of dub, soul, funk, ska and other flavors — take the stage.
“We’re the energy of a DJ mixed with the communication and vibe of a jazz trio,” Pellegrino said.
Many fans will remember Too Many Zooz from its work on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album and its performance with her on “Daddy Lessons” during the 2016 Country Music Association Awards. Others know Leo P for his distinctive dance moves and Matt Doe for his performance with Harry Styles’ band during his “Saturday Night Live” appearance in November. Others enjoy “Fanimals,” “Subway Gawds” and other collections.
The same band that filmed the 2017 video for “Bedford” at New York City’s Union Square Station during a 3:33 a.m. subway busking session and the 2018 video for “Car Alarm” on the roof of a Philadelphia supermarket to the whining rhythm of a vehicle alarm is always game for a creative approach to what otherwise could seem mundane.
Take the concept behind the band’s first full-length collection, “Subway Gawds,” which playfully transforms the quirky denizens of the Big Apple’s subway system into a pantheon of shape-shifting immortals. Pellegrino said Too Many Zooz learned during its busking days that it’s important to “appease the subway gods for success.” What started as an inside band joke soon grew into an album’s worth of musical output — and an endless cast of characters.
“The evil ones delay trains,” he said. “They can come in the form of a police chief who won’t let us play anymore. They can come in many forms.”
Recent music has explored the concept of zombie viruses threading through crowds at music festivals, and those tunes might linger in your head if you plan to catch the group’s Bonnaroo performance in June. Dates in Europe, Mexico and Russia also are on the schedule.
Listeners will want to catch Too Many Zooz in town while they can, because one thing Pellegrino doesn’t like is repeating himself.
“I love going to new places, but the other issue with that is it becomes less special each time I go,” he said.
Make no mistake: he’s grateful, not jaded.
“If a 18-year-old me was going to Paris, he wouldn’t be going to sleep all night,” Pellegrino said with a chuckle.