New Birth Brass Band

New Birth Family

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The New Birth Brass Band is aptly named, emerging as it does at a time when there is new interest in the New Orleans brass band tradition. Not a typical second-line band, these guys have a unique sound that incorporates elements of Mardi Gras Indian chants, gutbucket funk (producer George Porter, Jr. used to be the Meters' bass player), and straight-ahead jazz as well as second-line sounds and gospel. To accuse them of sometimes sounding sloppy on their latest album is to miss the point completely. And besides, in many cases what sounds like sloppiness is really just an artful pretense -- sure, they're all getting messy with the beat on the delirious "Fat Boy," but listen to how dead-on everyone's intonation is. On the other hand, what should have been a transcendent rendition of "Gloryland" is marred by a careless vocal mix and a backing chorus that doesn't match the lead singer's soulful intensity. (The band's take on "Old Time Religion" works much better.) A few other tracks, notably "Project Love" and "Hush Your Mouth," just fail somehow to catch fire. But when these guys hit it they hit it hard, as their explosive renditions of "I Got a Woman" and "A.P. Tuoro" demonstrate. Recommended.

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