The New Orleans All-Star Brass Band: Do You Know What It Means?
Returning to the music I asked Akbar if there exists in New Orleans a kind of jazz police, a jazz snobbery suspicious of change in the traditional style. "Not really, you know, because in New Orleans it's all connected, even with the new kids. We are the second generation of the traditional sound and we have incorporated more of an up-tempo, more progressive sound compared to the old tradition and the kids behind us are doing more contemporary stuff, doing a lot of hip-hop, rap stuffthey just do it in a brass band. They feel like this is too old for them because people can't dance the way they want to and they think that they're doing something new, but nothing is new. It's all just one piece of the puzzle. But we don't have a snobbery. We're a big family so we have a cohesiveness that I never saw in any other musical family in America. You know, New York is really competitive, cut-throat. New Orleans is not like that. We all work together at all times. We all know each other and we all fight, and laugh and love each other.
Watching the band that evening playing the beautifully soulful, blues-drenched dirge, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee, one can hear how nearly all modern American popular music drinks at the well that is New Orleans. Had Katrina struck New Orleans a century earlier who knows what course popular music in America may have taken? It is impossible to say. What is clear, however, is that if the present administration put half as much effort into the compassionate reconstruction of its national cultural treasure as it does into the fight against terrorism, then New Orleans would be up on its feet in no time. Someone remind me please, what are the American values Bush is trying to defend?