New Orleans brass band music is infectious, good-time music, even when it's played at funerals. Rebirth Brass Band keeps the tradition alive and up-to-date on We Come to Party. One might wonder whether the title is a reference to drugs, but there are no allusions to such debauchery from these seven sincere and religious men. Allusions abound, however, to "Iko, Iko" and Louis Jordan's "Brother, Beware."
Rebirth Brass Band touts a natural high, and provides the means, too. Along with the bass drum and cymbals one expects from a brass band, RBB has brought in Michael Ward on congas to add an Afro-Cuban beat. Virtually every track is upbeat; fatigue is avoided by the clever use of polyphony, usually between the brass instruments, but sometimes between the brass and percussion, as on the title track. The standout, if one number can be held up over the others, is the group's rollicking cover of Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl." Just when you think you're about partied out, the group throws in a traditional pairing, "Glory, Glory/Jesus on the Mainline," just to prove they're in touch with the roots of their genre. The album closes with a midtempo cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," which only serves to support the proposition that brass players make ragged singers. If you're thinking about booking these guys for your funeral, you may want to call now, because there's sure to be a waiting list.