I recently made a trip to Waterloo Records and grabbed the first thing that jumped out at me: Rebirth of New Orleans, by the Rebirth Brass Band. It pretty much blows me away. I discovered them last Mardi Gras, when I was digging through Youtube, looking for music from New Orleans.
They remind me a bit of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a group I got to see in Austin a few years ago. It’s a great jazzy mixture of New Orleans second line, funk and hip hop. Great horn playing. It’s also an interesting segue from the last batch of CD purchases I made, featuring Balkan brass band music, much of it created by European Gypsies.
In both cases, you have extremely skilled musicians from cultures that know what it’s like to go through bad times — yet they still know how to enjoy life and spread that joy to others. In short, they have passion.
This isn’t on the latest album, but it’s awesome — The Rebirth Brass Band in the French Quarter, in 2008:
Now check this out:
Kinda different, but kinda the same too, don’t you think?
The Budos Band is an instrumental outfit on the excellent independent soul label, Daptone Records, alongside such acts as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and the Sugarman 3. They have between 11 and 13 members, playing what they refer to as Afro-Soul. It is very much influenced by Ethiopian music, as well as classic soul and funk from the ’60s.
I was reminded of the Budos Band this morning after I saw the latest post on Roots Note Music: Somalia: K’Naan, Magool, & the meanest streets in the universe. The post features a Somalian musician/rapper living in Canada, named K’Naan. Some of the grooves he was rapping over were from Ethiopia (which is next door to Somalia). They reminded me of songs I’ve heard by the Budos Band.
Check out this video for “Origin of Man”:
If you like what you hear, you can check out more of their stuff on their MySpace page, and at their website: http://thebudos.com/
And if you’d like to delve further into Ethiopian music, a good starting point might be saxophone player Getachew Mekuria. I first heard a recording of the song below at an Ethiopian restaurant (very interesting cuisine also!):
And something a bit more modern:
Soul singer Lee Fields isn’t new on the scene by any means. He’s been in the business for many years, but you still might not have heard of him. If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. His album, My World, was my pick for best album of 2009 when I bought it last summer. It still comes out slightly ahead of my other top album of 2009, Grizzly Bear’s Veckatamist. It’s perfect. Not a bad song on it. Fields has been compared to James Brown, but his band’s style reminds me a lot more of some of the Philly Soul groups from the ’70s. Groovy, funky, and very smooth.
Thanks to the mp3 and the popularity of iTunes, the music world is becoming much more singles-oriented. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the best musicians in history only made singles. But there is still something really satisfying about a good, solid album filled with one great song after another. My World is one such album. You really need to get this one in your hands. If you don’t believe me, you can stream the songs from his label Truth & Soul Records.
The album can be purchased from Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic. Go here for links.