28 February 2006

"21st Century Saints..."

It's Mardi Gras, and I just can't help sharing another helping of New Orleans. Mardi Gras is springing up all over. Saturday night I caught the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in concert with the Dixie Hummingbirds. It took a few songs for the bands and the about-as-far-from-New-Orleans-as-you-can-get audience to warm up, but who can resist funky basslines on tuba. (Sure, technically it's a Sousaphone, but the nervous new band member didn't seem in a mood to object; he watched the other band members with desperate attention and ended up playing wonderfully.)

Last night, it was Brazilian Carnaval in Olympia with Bat Makumba. Sheer nuttiness. Following an spritely opening quartet, Bat Makumba took the stage just before 11pm. Was it the Carnival spirit that found percussionist Emiliano Benevides bedecked in fuzzy slippers, a cow-udder hat, a bib, and one truly giant diaper? I can't say. But I can say that they are an amazing live band with huge energy. Their screaming cover of "Mas Que Nada" was a wonder to behold.

Yesterday's post featured old-school funk with The Wild Magnolias. Today, a newer generation of New Orleans musicians. Trombonist/bandleader Stephen "Coolbone" Johnson has had a hand in several projects. I'm most familiar with the CD Coolbone: Brass Hop, which features some New Orleans classics, plus some innovative originals combining elements of hip hop with New Orleans jazz. Not easy to find, but worth digging up for the new-century take on this classic music. And for the amazing tuba basslines.

[mp3] Coolbone: "The Saints"
Coolbone website
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