New Birth Brass Band

New Birth Brass Band

BandJazz

"New Birth's members are all virtuosos who mix elements of blues, ragtime, gospel, funk, soul, rock, and traditional Crescent City jazz into their sound." - All Music Guide

Biography

The New Birth Brass Band is at the forefront of the current New Orleans brass band renaissance. The band fuses hip-hop, Mardi Gras Indian chants, funk, and modern jazz with age old traditional sounds. Winners of the 2001 Big Easy Award for Best Brass Band, New Birth’s backline conjures up visions of second-liners streaming down the block, spilling over onto the sidewalks and gyrating wildly to the pounding rhythms, driven by Tanio’s bass drum and filled by the wailing horns.

New Birth’s legacy reaches back to Harold “Duke” Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band. Dejan’s band was THE New Orleans Brass band in the early 50’s, and they had a lock on the majority of events in need of a brass band. In 1965 Harold’s friend Danny Barker moved back to New Orleans from New York City and formed a children's group led by Leroy Jones known as the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band. This group began to attract attention and before long Harold felt their competition. As a result, Dejan complained to Musicians Union officials about these underage kids taking their jobs and not being Union members. Danny then encouraged Leroy to join the Union and Leroy formed the Hurricane Brass Band. When Leroy decided to pursue a solo career, the Hurricane Brass Band became the Tornado Brass Band, which in turn spawned ReBirth, Dirty Dozen, Soul Rebels and New Birth Brass Bands. As the brass band revival of the '70s and '80s exploded, Harold began to nurture and encourage many of the younger players

In 1984, four of the current members of New Birth began playing in Harold’s Junior Olympia Brass Band, Bass Drummer Tanio Hingle, snare drummer Kerry Hunter and trumpeter Kenneth Terry, the first leader of Junior Olympia and a protégé of the legendary Milton Baptiste. “The first lesson from Milton was to stick with the traditional music,” says Terry, who is now adept at both old and new styles. “We would go to Milton’s house and sit in the back in the shade and we’d always have a talk session first. We’d listen to the music first to understand who wrote a song, what a song meant … [and] then get our horns out.”
As the nineties rolled along, some of the brass bands started adding an element of funk and R & B to their repertoire, and some bands converted entirely to a funky hip-hop vibe. New Birth manages to balance both styles in their captivating performances. Tanio Hingle, (bass drummer, he started in Olympia’s junior band when he was 16 years old) the leader of New Birth, bemoans the younger brass band musicians who forsake the older songs. “You might be playing all this funk,” he says, “but then if you get a request from the audience for ‘Lord, Lord, Lord You Sure Been Good to Me.’ And if you say no, you can’t play that, they’ll not respect you as a brass band.” Tanio, Kenneth and Kerry still perform every Sunday night at Preservation Hall with Olympia, a tradition Harold Dejan maintained for over 30 years, until his passing in 2002.
In the late 90’s, New Birth attracted the attention of New Orleans music legend (and 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee) Allan Toussaint who released their CD D-Boy on his NYNO Records Label. The members of New Birth are all jazz veterans and in addition to their work with New Birth have played with everyone from Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr, to Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie. The New Birth Brass Band has gained national acclaim with features on MTV, the Today Show and Live w/ Regis and Kelly, along with articles in several high profile national publications. They have done much to revive the New Orleans marching brass band tradition, while giving it a spin that is uniquely their own. Their performances are not to be missed. Their newest CD “New Birth Family” is produced by New Orleans legend George Porter Jr (bass player w/ The Meters. Funky Meters, Tori Amos) and will be released on their own label in early August 2004.

Discography

D-Boy - NYNO Records - 1997
New Birth Family - Fat Black Records (self-released) August 2004

Set List

Sets are designed to fit the needs of the venue, a combination of well-known traditional and contemporary titles as well as original songs.

Fat Boy
Gloryland
Saints Go Marching In
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
D-Boy
What A Wonderful World
L'il Liza Jane
Wanna Be Starting Something (Michael Jackson cover)
I Got A Woman (Ray Charles cover)