Various Artists – New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City

Album Review | Smithsonian Folkways | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

“Jazz grew up in a thousand places, but it was born in New Orleans” the great film-maker Ken Burns once said, acknowledging the fact that the roots of this evergreen musical genre first broke ground over a century ago in the Louisiana city’s Congo Square. But whilst jazz has done much of its evolving in such disparate locations as Chicago, New York, Paris and Havana, the very spirit of the music still haunts the ornate streets of the Big Easy. New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City provides a briefly joyous glimpse at the beating heart of jazz in that unique city via recordings of some of its most renowned brass bands. The Liberty Brass Band, Treme Brass Band and Hot 8 Brass Band are each represented here through their ebullient renditions of such staple jazz compositions as “The Sheik of Araby”, “Lily of the Valley”, “Amazing Grace” and “Old Rugged Cross”. Take a moment to savour the artistry behind the Liberty Brass Band’s version of Panama, a languorously pendulous tune that reminds us why jazz’s earliest conjurings contained the fire that continues to fuel it. Get beyond the complacency we’ve imposed upon early jazz and you’ll find, especially within the Hot 8 Brass Band’s superb New Orleans (After the City), an ever-fresh and utterly exciting music that refuses to let go throughout this effervescent and celebratory disc.