There is something hearty, meaty and robust about a brass section that pulls at me from somewhere deep. It is a guttural pang that reverberates across the air as countless musicians display their sweat inducing works, illuminated by air pushed through circular mouthpieces as each controlled breath extends each note further than the one before it. Trumpets, Trombones, Tubas. Woodwind reeds that join in to properly punctuate points and add warmth. These are components which arrange in such a way to tell stories in music; each a persona with the manipulation by it’s given performer.
The thing about music is that it reflects a specific count of time. The percussive nature of the said time keeping reflects, in stereo when one person is even one count off. New Orleans has a litany of musical heritage, most notably through it’s jazz traditions. Jazz, at it’s core for musicians reflects such an understanding of that time and beat that one is able to produce notes across a track in a pattern that will end up complimenting the overarching scheme, though is not bound in any other way.
Want to start on the down beat? That’s an artistic decision in Jazz. Staggering a bit? Touché. As long as you return to the core in appropriate time, you are golden. But the return to weave together consistency is of the utmost importance. I would say that Funk and Soul have the same attributes, even if Jazz is a major player in the New Orleans scene.
A performance tradition is instilled early, as music programs in and around schools appeal to kids as a way to see past their surroundings. Because of the lineage of exceptional artists who have graced the New Orleans area, teachers are able to share their experience and connections which sometimes lead to greater opportunities to perform.
Similarly, DJ’ing requires finesse and technique. If you are spinning records, knowing when to cut, scratch or just lay low for a break beat define the abilities of the performer. Great DJ’s, much like great Brass players, understand timely production. Neither are sloppy with keeping the count.
When I travel, I truly enjoy searching for record stores in different parts of the world. They can be so reflective of the communities that they serve by the selection of what’s in stock. At one point, I thought about setting a goal to buy a record (local, if possible) from each of these trips. Either due to storage capacity, or flat out financial frugality, I have chilled out on that practice a bit. But I enjoy finding records that are not as easily accessible to my home of Houston. NOLA Mix Records was that productive store for me in New Orleans.
I have seen Rebirth Brass Band perform when they have toured through Houston a couple of years back. They always put on a great show and I am as enthusiastic about one of their founding members, Kermit Ruffins who rocks a mean trumpet. Whether it is due to a culture of Second Lining in New Orleans, everything they play makes me want to move. If you want to stand still at one of their shows, I have major questions for you. Rebirth signals wide smiles and laughs at just how joyful the tempo is. The track this week is “I like it like that”, though another favorite is “I Feel like Funkin’ It Up”.
When I walked into NOLA Mix Records, they were outside of the more touristy French Quarter area. The neighborhood was quieter and more residential. What I was drawn to initially was actually DJ Shadow’s “The Outsider” for it’s iconic kid bandit artwork. I remember seeing the CD when it first came out, all the while thinking that maybe one day I would own the LP. It partly had a role in helping me name the company that produces this blog, Red Bandit Media. I was lucky enough to also find this limited edition 45 of Rebirth Brass Band in their element, something that unfortunately I haven’t found in my local shops. But, this further solidifies the reason I crate dig when I travel.
NOLA Mix has a really cool discount for all the social media types. If you take a “mugshot picture” in the shop and tag them with the record, they offer a relative discount for the shoutout.
After reflection, I am working on ways to merge the thoughts I have about the pleasant experience I had finding a cool local shop in NOLA, the traditions of music in the area, and the link to the track. Here’S what I have drummed up so far: I was happy to find a shop as invested in not only making a buck off of it’s patrons, but in promoting the culture of vinyl and DJ’ing (both offering free classes and paid lessons) in a heartfelt way. The selection was prime, it meant something to the owner, similarly to musicians and I think at the end of the day, that’s truly what tugs at my heartstrings about Jazz, Soul, and Funk.
And yes, I like it like that.