New Faces on the Brass Band Scene

It was over 30 years ago that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band revolutionized the brass band community by infusing the 100-year-old traditional rhythms with modern jazz. The Rebirth Brass Band has been on scene since the early 1980s. Their contribution was adding funk to the stew.

Over the course of the ensuing years, bands like the Hot 8 have become established players both in the clubs and on the weekly second line parades. Meanwhile other groups, which briefly clung to a toehold, either disbanded or other bands absorbed their members. I was reminded of this when I saw the trombonist Tyrus Chapman featured on this past Sunday’s episode of Tremé. He was one of the first brass band musicians to rap on a song, which was released by his short-lived group, the Highsteppers. Other groups that have come and gone include the Looney Tunes and the Lil Rascals.

After Katrina, we saw a surge in new bands. The Free Agents, the Stooges, the Baby Boyz and the TBC all emerged around this time. All four bands are tearing it up along with stalwarts of the scene including old timers like the Tremé and the Pinstripe.

Lately I have seen another wave emerging from the vast ocean of young talent in our city. At the top of the crest is the Young Pinstripe Brass Band (pictured). I first heard the group at last fall’s annual parade by the Young Mens Olympia, Jr. Social Aid and Pleasure Club. They were musically tight and looked the part in matching shirts.

Then wandering around Frenchmen Street on a recent Saturday night, I heard the unmistakable sound of a thundering sousaphone emerging from Vaso, a fledgling club that occupies the space formerly known as the Hookah Café. Inside, a handful of patrons were digging the sound. These guys are still young, but they have the chops. I hung around for the rest of their set and dug their take of the now-classic, “Snowball,” which first appeared on the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s 1990 release, The New Orleans Album.

The Young Pinstripe plays tonight at D.B.A.

Here’s video of them courtesy of Big Red Cotton-

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