New Orleans Part IV: The Brass Bands (Happy Mardi Gras!)

March 3, 2011

Soul Rebel Jazz Band, Howlin' Wolf 12/18/10

To end my little series on New Orleans and to kick off Mardi Gras with a bang, I would be remiss not to devote a little time to the ubiquitous modern brass bands, the rhythms of which pepper the city landscape as commonly as delis in New York City.
Their constant and organic presence at every social gathering, public event, funeral, parade, you name it, is what makes New Orleans such an amazing place for an outsider to visit. That deep pocket, that solid backbeat, the harmony and counterpoint of the horns, the seamless mixing of traditional New Orleans hot jazz with funk, soul, bop and hip hop that began in the 70s is in full blossom. It nourishes the communities, it supports the youth, it constantly adjusts to the latest cultural changes and thereby keeps itself alive and flourishing. And man is it upbeat – if you don’t feel like dancing when you listen to this, you ain’t human!

There are many brass bands out there, and being selective isn’t always easy, so I’ve picked three different bands whose stylings I felt best represented the brass band phenomenon.
First up, Rebirth! The Rebirth Brass Band is pretty much the reference point for this style of music. I saw them in high school and have been hooked since then.
From Takin’ It To The Street (1992):

Chameleon – Rebirth Brass Band
From Ultimate Rebirth Brass Band (2004):

Feel Like Funkin’ It Up – Rebirth Brass Band
From Throwback with Kermit Ruffins (2005):

Mardi Gras Day – Kermit Ruffins and the Rebirth Brass Band

Next, the Treme Brass Band, classic Nola mainstays, if perhaps slightly more traditional in sound.
From New Orleans Music! (2008):

Grazing In The Grass – The Treme Brass Band

Tuba Fats – The Treme Brass Band

Finally, the Soul Rebels Brass Band, who we saw in December at the Howlin’ Wolf. A track from their album No Place Like Home will give you more of an idea of what they’re all about than the budget low-fi recordings I made.
From No Place Like Home (2010):

504 – Soul Rebels Brass Band

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One Response to “New Orleans Part IV: The Brass Bands (Happy Mardi Gras!)”

  1. em Says:

    Good you added ‘504’, albeit at the end of your post….


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