Lowdown Brass Band - Low Down Breaks (advance review)

Lowdown Brass Band
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Musicians have been making the journey from New Orleans to Chicago for more than a century. Two of the most famous transplants were Joe “King” Oliver and Louis Armstrong. Oliver and Armstrong both played in brass bands in the early part of their careers.

The brass band is perhaps one of New Orleans’ most recognizable cultural imports, and in something on an ironic twist the Chicago based Lowdown Brass Band reimagined the brass and drum band for the hip hop era. The LDB actually started as a New Orleans cover band, and the group’s sound evolved over time to incorporate elements of genres such as hip hop, funk and reggae.

The LDB added elements of hip-hop and funk, reggae and to the jazz improvisation by adding emcee Billa Camp, a DJ scratching and the selective sampling of the band’s horns and drum parts in the transition on its fifth studio album Low Down Breaks, which will be released in mid-January.

Musicians have been making the journey from New Orleans to Chicago for more than a century. Two of the most famous transplants were Joe “King” Oliver and Louis Armstrong. Oliver and Armstrong both played in brass bands in the early part of their careers.

The brass band is perhaps one of New Orleans’ most recognizable cultural imports, and in something on an ironic twist the Chicago based Lowdown Brass Band reimagined the brass and drum band for the hip hop era. The LDB actually started as a New Orleans cover band, and the group’s sound evolved over time to incorporate elements of genres such as hip hop, funk and reggae.

The LDB added elements of hip-hop and funk, reggae and to the jazz improvisation by adding emcee Billa Camp, a DJ scratching and the selective sampling of the band’s horns and drum parts in the transition on its fifth studio album Low Down Breaks, which will be released in mid-January.

Low Down Breaks is a record that highlights the adaptability of bass and drum bands. The genre’s use of beats and breaks provides a funky foundation for Billa Camp’s smooth flow on tracks such as “Grind it Out” and particularly “Cold Shoulder,” which is my pick for the best track on Low Down Breaks. Billa Camp’s flow is also on-point on “Can I Kick It?,” a track where the horns and drums combine with a guitar riff to ‘sample’ Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” right down to the brassy interpretation of Reed’s backing singers – the Colored Girls.

The kicking ‘boom-bat’ of the drums often creates a beat box sound - even where the drum playing is definitely analog - and the horns create a percussive sound when the players improvise in harmony or individually, making for danceable music when heard on “Don’t Wait, Right Now,” a track that fuses New Orleans shuffle march with reggae; a reminder that the music of the Crescent City is a gumbo of influences from Africa, the Caribbean and Europe.

People have been dancing to New Orleans parade brass and drum bands for more than a century, and with Low Down Breaks, the LDB shows that this genre can bend contemporary styles to its will and keep the second line dancing well into the future. Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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