Rebirth Brass Band

The Main Event: Live at the Maple Leaf

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This live CD was initially a 500-copy limited edition for local fans, but after those sold out in five days in New Orleans, it graduated to a bigger and broader release. That often signals something special, but this is one case where the music doesn't really transcend the moment -- you can't escape the feeling that you had to be in the club sweating it out with the band that night to feel the magic. Opening with two songs associated with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, "Blackbird Special" and the R&B staple "It's All Over Now," only shows that ReBirth is still essentially a rawer, less polished version of the DDBB. The latter's studio version of "Blackbird" 20 years ago still beats this one for expertise and vitality, and ReBirth has nothing to match the lethal Roger Lewis-Kevin Harris tandem sax riff machine. ReBirth sounds more like the Dozen when it gets its bad groove thing going on the original "Don't Start No Shit!," complete with what sounds like a variation on Jimi Hendrix's "Who Knows" riff from Band of Gypsys. The centerpiece of The Main Event is a 32-minute title track divided into four sections -- the chop funk drumming on "Tornado Special" sets the groove and ReBirth rides the funky foundation through a series of OK solos. They blend in enough potent groove variations and dynamic shifts to sustain the musical momentum and toss in Mardi Gras Indian chants and bits from "The Roof Is on Fire" to whip up audience response. It's those spots that reveal The Main Event to be more akin to a live go-go record by Trouble Funk than anything. Ride the non-stop rhythm indigenous to a homegrown scene, reference old favorites from local heroes, and toss in familiar chants to cement the audience bond and identification with the sound and scene. ReBirth fans outside New Orleans can enjoy the disc, but at heart the music captured that night was a local thing.

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