Monday, January 22, 2018

New Orleans Brass Bands...

I'm a horn player. When I started cutting my musical chops there were pop hits by groups like Chicago and Bill Chase that were inspirational to a kid trying to learn a horn. There are still good horn bands around. They may not be making towering hits on the pop charts but if you go down to New Orleans you can see brass bands building on a tradition that dates back to the 19th century.

War is hell they say. It chews up lives and takes a vast amount of resources and equipment. After it's over people try to take their lives back and there is usually a fantastic amount of surplus floating around. In New Orleans post Civil War some of the surplus was military band brass instruments. With New Orleans being a party town and a place to mix cultures folks picked up the left over military band brass instruments and fused European marches with African folk rhythms and a new style of music was born that continue to evolve with hip hop and funk elements added in a natural progression. You can find whatever you want in this type of music with your traditionalist bands and innovators all occupying the same time and space. 

We saw this pickup band on Frenchman Street.

One thing I have noted is that many of these bands seem to be born out a particular group of players that have been together since a high school or college band program. Some of these street corner guys had Southern University Band T shirts and hoodies. Maybe just up for the weekend making some tip money. 

This tuba guy had a hybrid horn with a fiber glass bottom and a metal bell. Could be a horn pieced together other parts or maybe something to cut the weight a little bity but still a metal bell for tone. We all have our little sound formulas.  

We were on our way to see the Hot 8 Brass Band. The t bone player in the red shirt was a Hot 8 member who sat in with the street band. 

The Hot 8 has been in existence for 20 years. They are the more "modern" stylist of the brass band music fusing the old style, funk, hip hot, R & B and local bounce into great music. I can hear some Mardi Gras Indian rhythm in there also. The tuba player Bennie Pete is the leader. 

I enjoyed this trumpet player. I don't know if he was super stoned or maybe just super cool but he was a real laid back cat who never missed his cue and always hit his mark. You could tell he was really feeling the music. 

There is some tragedy to the Hot 8 story. Three members have been lost to gun violence. Two were seeming random and one was a controversial police shooting. We all hear that all lives matter. Brass band lives matter too.  

Don't tell me there is no good music being made anymore. Guys are making it up as they go along everyday. 


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