New Orleans music just has it. Music historians will talk about the march beat, the history of congo square, mardi gras, and the big chief, but for me the music that comes out of that city is the best our culture has to offer. It is what we will be remembered for. For over 25 years the Rebirth (sometimes ReBirth) Brass Band has been carrying the torch. Their name takes on renewed importance in our post-Katrina world. Most recently they released a live DVD entitled From the Big Apple to the Big Easy ; a NYC Gulf Coast benefit.
This performance from the High Sierra Music Festival is a show stopper. They opened by sliding into a high-powered version of the Fats Domino tune "I'm Walking." Rebirth covers one of my favorite party tunes, "Big Chief." I think "Rollin" best captures the spirit of the set, including dropping in a little Parliament tease. Anyone familiar with the Blues Brothers movie will recognize the last song of the set, "Everybody Needs Somebody." No slight to the movie intended, but this is how this song should be done. The rest of the set played out like this:
This is not jazz or brass band music in the form that you might be tempted to think of. When Rebirth started in the early 80's, they incorporated the musical developments around them (mostly the burgeoning genre of hip-hop) into their interpretation of New Orleans music. One can sense it from their choice of topics for their own compositions to the banter between the songs of this show. It's so seamless that I wonder if they are even separate. While this is music for a Friday night, it is Monday, I'm feeling shitty, and this show made me smile. Thanks to Freddie G for recording and posting this show. Photo comes from rebirthbrassband.com