Published Oct 07, 2014New Orleans' Mardi Gras Records has been releasing music from local brass bands for years, and yet something seems suspiciously off in the titling of their latest compilation, Ultimate New Orleans Brass: Second Line Funk!. "Ultimate" implies a conclusion, and while this is certainly a cream of the crop selection of New Orleans brass band performances, it is more of an introduction than a culmination. The bulk of the album is held down by modern funk and hip-hop influenced bands New Birth, Soul Rebels and the Grammy award-winning Rebirth, whose anthemic "Do Whatcha Wanna" kicks things off.
Still-revered defunct bands Lil' Rascals and Olympia are included with the antiphonal "Knock With Me Rock With Me" and the Smokey Johnson/Silk The Shocker staple "It Ain't My Fault," respectively. This is by and large the familiar reimagined as only the most culturally rich node of North Americans can. Brass renditions of "Cassanova." "Apache" and DC go-go king Chuck Brown's "I Feel Like Busting Loose" round out the volume.
This compilation is clearly aimed at the uninitiated, as those familiar with the tradition and evolution of New Orleans brass bands probably own these songs already, and perhaps have even seen these bands a few dozen times. But for those of us just catching on, or left wanting following the conclusion of HBO's Treme, Ultimate New Orleans Brass: Second Line Funk! is both exceptional and essential. (Mardi Gras Records)