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Uniformed brass bands have been around since the late-nineteenth century, throughout Europe and the United States, but African American brass bands in New Orleans have always...
Uniformed brass bands have been around since the late-nineteenth century, throughout Europe and the United States, but African American brass bands in New Orleans have always played music differently: the way it is lived on the street. Performing in funeral processions and in parades for social clubs, they learned how to play by interacting with their audiences. This spontaneity and feeling became trademarks of jazz.
Brass bands waned during the civil rights era but revived around 1970 and then flourished in the 1980s, when the music became cool with the younger generation. In the only book to cover this revival, Burns interviews members from a variety of bands, including the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band, the Dirty Dozen, Tuba Fats' Chosen Few, and the Rebirth Brass Band. He captures their thoughts about the music, their careers, audiences, influences from rap and hip-hop, the resurgence of New Orleans social and pleasure clubs and second lines, traditional versus funk style, recording deals, and touring.
"My dream is I would love to win a Grammy with a brass band," confides Philip Frazier III of the Rebirth Brass Band. "But if I had to do it again for no money, I would, because I love doing it." For anyone who loves jazz and the city where it was born, Keeping the Beat on the Street is a book to savor.
About the Author:
Mick Burns is the author of The Great Olympia Band and has played jazz professionally in Europe and the United States for forty years. He lives in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, in England.