At this point, the contemporizing of New Orleans brass band traditions is pretty much part of the music’s DNA. Traditionalists in the brass band world here are understandably vocal about the need to preserve the culture in which the New Orleans jazz funeral was born — sonically, visually and even in terms of context and behavior. (Dr. Michael White is always a great resource on this angle.) But once brass band music began mixing with popular music forms ranging from jazz to hip-hop to funk and soul, a seemingly inexorable drive to experiment with the ideas embedded in the music took off.
DownBeat offered me the chance to investigate some of the directions those concepts are taking in 2014 — along with some history and a look at factors that have sparked New Orleans style brass band music in particular to start spreading far beyond the city.
One of the most compelling common denominators was the inspiration players and audiences take from the music’s communal, participatory elements. Plus, a gorgeous day out at the Sudan club’s second line with the TBC followed by a Brassft Punk show in the park (and yes, that’s a brass band playing Daft Punk) = my kinda reporting.