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Funeral for a Friend

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Album Review

On their tenth album, the Crescent City's Dirty Dozen Brass Band bring it all back to the cobblestone streets where it began. The Dozens have done it all, from straight New Orleans jazz to restless funky experimentation, and here they put it all down to the roots of its origin. Funeral for a Friend is just that, a complete reenactment of a New Orleans funeral or "homecoming." The Dozens played them at the beginning and continue to. The set is dedicated to the memory of founding member Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, who passed away just a few weeks after its completion. The band performed it in the streets leading the horse-drawn carriage procession. Comprised entirely of gospel and spiritual songs, it follows the trajectory of a departed one's life from birth to celebrations of her or his character to death and resurrection in the afterlife. The first of the three stages begins with a slow, mournful dirge that emerges as "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," as the gathering begins at the courthouse and becomes a strident statement in "I Shall Not Be Moved," where the grief begins to give way to the feeling of victory, that the departed has broken the bondage of this life's prison. The music begins to swell and swirl and gains in stridency and emotion until it actually erupts about five tracks in with "Jesus on the Mainline," with the band accompanied by the Davell Crawford Singers. The mind-blowing thing is the sound; though this was recorded in a studio, the listener feels like she's in the middle of a throng of marchers, surrounded by the band and the choir. The second stage begins with a stunning rendering of "John the Revelator" that simulates being played at the gravesite and offers this bluesy prophetic read on the entrance of the departed into a new order prophesied. It is resolved in "I'll Fly Away," with Melody Palmer leading the choir in a rowdy statement of death's defeat. This is followed by an altar call in "Is There Anybody Here That Loves My Jesus?" The final stage — leaving the cemetery for home — is commenced by the funky read of "Down by the Riverside," and is resolved in the celebratory gratitude for mercy in "Amazing Grace." But this review does nothing, literally, to describe the sheer power of the transference of emotion that Funeral for a Friend does. This is easily the most heartfelt, honestly rendered, and stunningly captured moment of the DDBB's recording career; it belongs in every household where the celebration of life and its transition from the sorrow of death to the eternal afterlife is honored. It is not only a classic in the genre, but will come to be regarded as a jazz classic, period.

Biography

Formed: 1975 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In their prime, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band successfully mixed together R&B with the instrumentation of a New Orleans brass band. Featuring Kirk Joseph on sousaphone playing with the agility of an electric bassist, the group revitalized the brass band tradition, opening up the repertoire and inspiring some younger groups to imitate its boldness. Generally featuring five horns (two trumpets, one trombone, and two saxes) along with the sousaphone, a snare drummer, and a bass drummer, the DDBB were...
Full bio
Funeral for a Friend, Dirty Dozen Brass Band
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  • 7,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 11 May 2004

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