Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Brass Bands in the Big Easy New Orleans' French Quarter Has Long Been Alive with Jazz, Blues, and Now Brass

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Brass Bands in the Big Easy New Orleans' French Quarter Has Long Been Alive with Jazz, Blues, and Now Brass

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS rhythm and blues artist Ernie K-Doe once mused: "I'm not sure, but I'm almost positive, that all music came from New Orleans."

No where in the Big Easy does this theory ring more true than in the French Quarter. Day or night it's hard to meander the narrow streets of the lively 90-square-block area without hearing the sultry sounds of a saxophone or the rousing notes of a brass band. Jazz, blues, gospel, rock, honky-tonk, cajun, and zydeco pour out from every cafe, club, and doorstep, the rhythms mingling like the wafting aromas of gumbo and jambalaya.

One of the most significant developments occurring on the New Orleans music scene is the renaissance of brass bands, which serve as a magnet for young kids, particularly African-Americans, who want to play music but can't afford to attend conservatories. The bands, which perform at parades, funerals, and clubs, blend their own streetwise version of jazz, gospel, rap, and rhythm and blues. "The health of the brass band in New Orleans is almost like a barometer of the health of the music scene in general," says Bruce Boyd Raeburn, curator of the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University. Music has always been woven into every fabric of community life here. Jazz made some of its most significant advances in New Orleans, thanks to pioneers such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet. Today jazz is still alive and well, though many musicians who start here move to New York or Los Angeles to make it big. But music is still thriving in other ways: Drummers make pilgrimages here just to soak up the city's African-Caribbean rhythms and street musicians have been an institution for more than a century. "The city has long been an incubator for music," says Jason Berry, co-author of "Up From the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.