The New Birth Brass Band
NYNO 9604-2
If you've been to New Orleans within, say, the past 15 years, and if you didn't waste too much time on Bourbon Street, you're probably aware of the wonderful revolution going on within the city's Second Line brass bands. Back in the early-to mid-1980s a bunch of young upstarts -- bands like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band -- started putting a contemporary spin on the bands' traditional sound with stiff doses of funk, jazz, hard bop, reggae, blues, the kitchen sink. Now the young lions are making room for a second generation of newcomers -- the Little Rebels, Soul Rebels and the New Birth Brass Band.

D-Boy is different from some of its predecessors in that the band's line-up lacks a saxophone. The tuba and trombone aren't quite so high in the mix. And there's not much reggae influence. New Birth's sound revolves around the dueling trumpets of Derrick Shezbie (he's the little kid in the early editions of the Rebirth Brass Band) and James "12" Andrews.

Andrews plays trumpet like Albert Collins played guitar -- in your face, but always with a comforting sense of humor. He and Shezbie, who's more of a finesse player, go after each other on every cut. Together, they're a fire hazard.

The band sticks to its roots with souped-up covers of Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," the traditional "Lil' Liza Jane" and "Whoopin' Blues" and -- are you ready for this? -- Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Jesus on the Main Line." There's also a ton of original material, including Andrews' own "Smoke That Fire (On the Bayou)" and "Caribbean Second Line," which samples, among other things, Harry Belafonte's familiar "Day-O."

So turn off your air conditioner, crank up the humidity, surround yourself with crooked politicians, slip D-Boy in the ol' CD player and -- presto! -- you're on Treme Street. This is great stuff.

-- Dave Ranney

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Boulder, CO, USA.