Music: Rebirth of the Cool

The Rebirth Brass Band takes the most traditional New Orleans musical approach - a group of brass players supplemented only by a drummer - and consistently places it in a modern context. While the Crescent City's most famous horn group, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, leans toward oldschool jazz and the city's funeral-march history, the Rebirth Brass Band is an unabashed funk ensemble willing to go out on a limb by backing up the likes of Ani DiFranco or George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars.

Since forming in 1983, Rebirth has released 10 albums, and when they tackle R&B chestnuts such as "(I Feel Like) Busting Loose" and "Let's Do It Again," they sound like the world's best, and most savvy, college marching band. They've also delved into softer pop territory with covers of Grover Washington Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us," and Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl." Their libidinal, hip-hop-inspired side emerges every now and then, most prominently on 2001's "Pop That Pussy" (featuring Cheeky Blakk), which earned them a parental-warning sticker for explicit lyrics.

While their studio releases ably document their collective chops, RBB are a party band designed for a live experience. Along those lines, their Tuesday-night residency at New Orleans's Maple Leaf Bar has not only cemented their status as legends of that music-rich city, it has transformed Mardi Gras into a weekly occurrence


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