After a quick, lively rendition of Dimitri Shostakovich's "Galop," from the play "Cheryomushki, Moscow," one of the five finally spoke to the audience.
"We know you're here for a good time," announced French horn player JD Shaw, with a beaming smile and a tinge of sarcasm, "because you came for a rip-roaring show of chamber music."
Likewise, the Boston Brass performance at Hendricks Chapel on Sunday afternoon was no less exciting.
The five-piece quintet only gained momentum as they went through their musical tour of diverse genres, ranging from classical pieces to contemporary jazz, funk and bebop, all played without the benefit of traditional instruments of the genre such as basses and entire percussion sections.
After their humorous introductions, Hendricks Chapel organist Kola Owolabi took the stage. His playing added an ominous element to Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's "'Danza Final' from Estancia," a piece that, the audience was told, evokes working-class farmers celebrating a successful harvest.
Eventually the brass quintet faded into the background as Owolabi and his organ mastery took over, playing two pieces simultaneously.
Wearing matching collarless shirts in their trademark purple, covered by black suits, the group strove to distance themselves from the stuffy, formal air of traditional classical music performances. After frantic solos, musicians exaggeratedly gasped for breath.
They cracked jokes about how much Costa Rican trumpet player Jose Sibaja enjoyed the weather in Syracuse. Unsurprisingly, they also made fun of the Yankees.
Finally, they transformed Franz Liszt's famous "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" into an epic struggle between the lone tuba player and the "egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic" pair of trumpets, said trombone player Lance LaDuke.
After the intermission, they started with a parody game show where a random member of the audience won an autographed CD to the tune of "The Price is Right" theme song.
"We're very organic about what we do," said trumpet player and founding member Jeff Conner. "It's all about having a good time. The idea is to entertain the audience. When we play a serious piece we do take it seriously, but we do have a good time with the audience."
This chance to step away from the comedy came with "I Remember Clifford," a slow jazz song written by saxophonist Benny Golson to remember his friend, who died at the age of 25 in a car accident.
"There's a lot of comedy that goes on, but the main focus of the group is the music," said Sibaja. "We take the music very, very seriously."
But the show quickly went back to its upbeat feel with "The Chicken," a funk hit from Pee Wee Ellis, who played saxophone with James Brown.
Their last piece, "Caravan," by jazz legend Duke Ellington, showed off their diverse skills as they ran through the styles of samba, bebop, funk and swing, with hints of Sergio Leone's "Spaghetti Western" soundtracks intertwined in each musician's solos. The audience was enthusiastic enough to demand an encore, which the group played.
Boston Brass recently released a compilation of wide-sweeping jazz classics entitled "Latin Nights." Yet, the group is still keeping themselves busy.
"We tour constantly," said tuba player Andrew Hitz. "We're not on the road all the time, but we never really have an off-season. We always have long-term projects on the back burner."
The group is used to this energetic pace, playing at tours and festivals that take them to Europe and Asia.
"We're very fortunate to play all over the world," said LaDuke. "Just in the last six months we've been to over half a dozen countries, and then in the next six months we're doing another half dozen, so it's refreshing. That part of it is great fun."