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Published: 2005/02/04
by Brian Ferdman

New Birth Family – New Birth Brass Brand

Valley Entertainment 15193
The city of New Orleans and brass band music go together like peanut butter and jelly, and it’s hard to envision the Crescent City without its signature "second line" sound. Most of the brass bands of today can be traced back to Harold "Duke" Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band, which was the New Orleans brass band in the early 1950s. Dejan’s influence was spread far and wide, and by 1965, his friend and former colleague, Danny Barker, was teaming with Leroy Jones to form a children’s group called the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band. Suddenly, there was a challenge to Dejan’s throne and interest in brass band music began to grow. Over the next couple of years, Jones formed the Hurricane Brass Band and the Tornado Brass Band, which eventually yielded ReBirth, Dirty Dozen, Soul Rebels, and New Birth Brass Bands. By the 1970s, the genre had grown to include elements of funk, soul, and modern jazz, and a full scale revival was in place.
New Birth Brass Band’s New Birth Family is an aptly titled album that serves as a bit of a family reunion for a band that stretches back nearly 20 years. A wide age gap is present as senior member Darryl Adams and his alto saxophone reach back all the way to the Hurricane Brass Band, while Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews, manning a trumpet on this release, just recently graduated from high school. Founding members Cayetano ‘Tanio’ Hingle (bass drum) and Kerry ‘Fatman’ Hunter (snare drum) combine to create a formidable rhythm section that resides deep in the hip-shaking second line tradition. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the raucous throwdown of ‘I Got a Woman.’ Ray Charles’ classic is painted with glistening trumpets, rim-shots, and buttery vocals in the unmistakable New Orleans style.
Dedicated to the memory of Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, "Gloryland" is a jubilant celebration filled with cascading horns, and "Old Time Religion" takes advantage of Glen David Andrews’ bold, throaty vocals to continue the retro vibe. While New Birth has the classic jazz funeral sound down pat, producer George Porter Jr. also sends them into new and engaging directions. Fiery originals, such as the swinging "Fat Boy," the sultry "Project Love," and the bopping "Hush Your Mouth," rely upon the band’s love of pulsating rhythms punctuated by massive blasts from the horn section. This new wave of tunes resides somewhere between funk, samba, and swing, and by the time New Birth completes the album-closing 12-minute rundown on "Cell Block Nine," Porter has taken them through a diverse spectrum of musical genres and melded them into a sound that bridges the gap between old and new.

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