Hardcover, 240 pages
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
How New Orleans musicians perpetually renew a grand musical tradition from classical to jazz, funk, and beyond
Since the 1990s, New Orleans has been experiencing its greatest musical renaissance since Louis Armstrong. Brass band, funk, hip hop, Mardi Gras Indian, zydeco, and other styles are rocking the city in new neighborhood bars far from the Bourbon Street tourist scene. Even “neotraditional” jazz players have emerged in startling numbers, making the old sound new for a younger generation.
In this book, Jack Sullivan shines the light on superb artists little known to the general public–Leroy Jones, Shamarr Allen, Kermit Ruffins, Topsy Chapman, Aurora Nealand, the Brass-A-Holics. He introduces as well a surge of female, Asian, and other previously marginalized groups that are making the vibe more inclusive than ever. New Orleans Remix covers artists who have broken into the national spotlight–the Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, Jon Batiste –and many creators who are still little known. Based on dozens of interviews and archival documents, this book delivers their perspectives on how they view their present in relation to a vital past.
The city of New Orleans has always held fiercely to the old even as it invented the new, a secret of its dynamic success. Marching tunes mingled with jazz, traditional jazz with bebop, Mardi Gras Indian percussion with funk, all producing wonderfully bewildering yet viable fusions. This book identifies the unique catalytic power of the city itself. Why did New Orleans spawn America’s greatest vernacular music, and why does its musical fire still burn so fiercely, long after the great jazz eruptions in Chicago, Kansas City, and others declined? How does a tradition remain intensely creative for generations? How has the huge influx of immigrants to New Orleans, especially since Hurricane Katrina, contributed to the city’s current musical harmony? This book seeks answers through the ideas of working musicians who represent very different sensibilities in voices often as eloquent as their music.
Jack Sullivan, New York, New York, is chair of the English Department at Rider University and author of New World Symphonies: How American Culture Changed European Music and Hitchcock’s Music, as well as editor of The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural and Words on Music: From Addison to Barzun.