cover image Keeping the Beat on the Street: The New Orleans Brass Band Renaissance

Keeping the Beat on the Street: The New Orleans Brass Band Renaissance

Mick Burns, . . Louisiana State Univ., $29.95 (197pp) ISBN 978-0-8071-3048-3

According to Burns, jazz musician and author of The Great Olympia Band , African-American brass bands, which date back to the 1870s, "still provide a crucible for the seemingly inexhaustible supply of creative fire that is New Orleans music." He specifically addresses the resurgence of the brass band scene over the past 30 years, interviewing key musicians and other players and presenting their first-person accounts in sections titled "Band Call." Together these stories weave a loose history of the music and the social club scene that has traditionally sustained it, charting the rise of youth bands in the 1970s, the huge success of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in the '80s and international interest that continues today. Many musicians start with the New Orleans address where they were born and recall local heroes and rehearsals in nearby garages, showing the vibrancy of brass band music to those who play it and its importance to New Orleans life. The book was completed before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the disaster's implications are not considered in the text, though it is clear that the music and the city are inextricably entwined, making this retrospective as poignant as it is informative. Photos. (Jan.)