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New Orleans brass
band celebrates the
rebirth of their city
through song

Rebirth Brass Band - Rebirth of New Orleans
(Basin Street Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 1, 2011
Rebirth Brass Band

Review by Tony Bonyata

Celebrating almost thirty years as one of New Orleans' ambassadors to the sounds that have been percolating up from the city streets throughout the last century, the Rebirth Brass Band are about to release their latest full-length album aptly titled Rebirth of New Orleans. Through an exuberant and upbeat blend of second-line jazz, funk, soul and Latin flourishes this brass ensemble rejoices over the slow, yet continuing rebuild of their hometown since it was devastated back in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. And it's a long overdue celebratory statement.

The Rebirth Brass Band originally formed back in 1982 by brothers Philip Frazier (tuba / sousaphone) and Keith Frazier (bass drum) along with Kermit Ruffins (trumpet), the latter who would start his own successful solo career, in the economically poor but culturally rich neighborhood of Treme. Along with other modern-day New Orleans institutes such as The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and (my personal favorite) Treme Brass Band, The Rebirth have served as one of the musical foundations of the city's longstanding brass band traditions. Their Tuesday night residency through the years at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans' Carrollton district has served as an incubator for their rough and rambunctious music style, and has seen the band travel far beyond it's humble tin-lined walls to enthusiastic crowds at concert halls and major festivals throughout the world.

Rebirth of New Orleans kicks off with the rollicking second-line jazz of "Exactly Like You" and with other spicy Latin-infused jazz numbers such as "The Dilemma," "Shrimp and Gumbo" and "Do It Again" the sights and smells of New Orleans actually seem to permeate through the speakers. But it's the interjection of funk and even hip-hip that really sets this band apart from both their contemporaries and brass band forefathers, such as the Eureka, Tuxedo and Olympia Brass Bands. While they've downplayed any hip-hop influences for this effort, thankfully they've left in some of the funk, albeit not as gritty as on previous efforts, on the bawdy number "I Like It Like That," as well as "You Know You Know" and "Feelin' Free."

New Orleans has never been at a loss when looking for a reason to party. From Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and funerals, to events as minute as the sun coming up or the sun going down (which seems to be a local favorite), New Orleanians have always been ready to dance in the streets. Now with the city on the mends, The Rebirth Brass Band have created a joyous soundtrack for locals and out-of-towners alike to revel over.

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