Record Review: Rebirth Brass Band – Rebirth of New Orleans (Basin Street Records)

The party continues on the streets of New Orleans by its most gifted musicians. This is a masterpiece of a brass band album that can export the roaring indigenous sounds all around the world.

Almost 30 years of career in music and Rebirth Brass Band sound more sparky and boisterous than a group of juveniles. I deeply believe that age does not matter, but the ‘Rebirth of New Orleans’ is really bursting out of playful, cheerful vibes – it is really about having pure fun with good music! Although it is more than half a year that this album came out, it is too good not to be reviewed by the newborn Freegan Kolektiva.

New Orleans music community suffered the most with homes, pubs and studios destroyed (together with the master tapes of an extraordinary musical heritage) and music instruments washed away by the massive disaster of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Well, the music community was an agent of the city’s restoration: the legendary ‘New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’ never stopped, while musicians like Rebirth Brass Band traveled around to raise money for rebuilding the city.

This album is both a statement and a proof that New Orleans has survived and will survive no matter how many natural devastations and outrageous political neglect are going to hit the place and that its unique musical culture is alive and developing. New Orleans is alive, robust and resilient because of its inhabitants’ will and determination, not governmental or corporate schemes, and that is much more sustainable and praiseworthy.

My itinerary to arrive to the New Orleans brass band concept started long ago with my affiliation with funk and outfits like Funkadelic, Kool & the Gang etc. Then I was going into more afro sounds with War, Mandrill to find Fela Kuti and the captivating sounds of Afrobeat ensembles. Somewhere between all this I heard the Dirty Dozen Brass Band; their full-brass ensemble took me by storm with their full-brass attack. That was my initiation in the New Orleans sound, while my interest was renewed when I saw Youngblood Brass Band in Zagreb, Croatia. My excitement was renewed twice when I heard this record.

With a military march drum roll and vintage Dixieland spirit ‘Exactly like you’ kicks in to set the mood for the rest of the album. Musically, things get more interesting with the next song ‘I like it like that’ with an addictive bass line on the sousaphone, jazzy upbeat percussions and astonishing work on the horn section. Carnivalesque parades come to mind, community celebrations and festive protests as well from the pounding dance beats and the blazing horns.

Rebirth Brass Band – Do it again from ‘Rebirth of New Orleans’:

This album is full of gems: from the funky tones of ‘You know you know’ to the more melodic and explorative spirit of ‘The Dilemma’ with its ‘trippin’ bass line, amazing solos and outstanding vocals that render a soulful appeal; from the unmatched musicianship of ‘AP Touro’ to the ethnic/latin Cuban percussions of ‘What goes around comes around’ flirting with the spirit of George Clinton and the absolute funk delirium of ‘Do it again’ with the zestful gang vocals, Rebirth Brass Band nail down inspired brass anthems song after song with no exceptions.

The production accomplished the hard task of capturing the energy and live spirit of the band. Moreover, when all instruments are ablaze you can feel the massive frequencies but you can also hear each one brightly. When some instruments step aside to give space to solos you have the feeling that the musicians follow some pathways in the song in an ‘action-reaction’ conversational manner that bring the songs forward though improvisation.

‘AP Touro’ by Rebirth Brass Band blasting through the city streets:

Rebirth Brass Band serve as exponents of New Orleans music culture. Their uniqueness lies on the fact that they have more of a localized focus: they are playing music about New Orleans, they are singing about ‘Shrimp and Gumbo’- a typical New Orleans dish and they keep up with their longstanding Tuesday night live appearances at the Maple Leaf Bar at Carollton neighbourhood of Uptown New Orleans. Diversity, the beauty of our world, can be only enriched by exploring our own roots, our own culture. Then we have something inimitable to share with the world.

Rebirth Brass Band managed to professionalize what a parade band playing funk could deliver conveying at the same the vibes of the African American community.The positive energy, liveliness and high spirits of the band are animated throughout the whole album from start to finish.  It is about festive celebration of living life to its fullest; that is what people usually realize after facing life’s hardships and experience destruction. I hope that this album will serve as a blueprint for what is about to come from New Orleans in terms of spirit, quality and originality.



2 thoughts on “Record Review: Rebirth Brass Band – Rebirth of New Orleans (Basin Street Records)

  1. I think I found a great blog here! Nice music everywhere, great artists… And I would abolish circus animals too!
    Keep on! and I added you to my blogroll!

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