02 03 Nerd Lunch: Imaginary Band: Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Imaginary Band: Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

I’m listening to a lot of saxophone as I get ready to strap on the old tenor (or maybe the baritone) and play a couple of reunion shows with my old soul/R&B/oldies band. I’ve been interested lately in the New Orleans brass band tradition.

Like any style of music, this has been through a lot of changes. It all got started somewhere around the turn of the (20th) century and Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet and other early masters started recording in the 1920s...and all other jazz can trace back to those early recordings.

In the modern day, there are a couple of styles strongly associated with this tradition. There’s Dixieland jazz...a nostalgia-driven endeavor, often associated with middle-aged white guys of medium talent (I hope to achieve both the “middle-aged” and the “medium talent” someday), which tends to very traditional, with a clarinet/trombone/cornet front line and a tenor banjo and sometimes straw hats. And then there are bands like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band that throw some funk and R&B sounds into the mix, and drop the clarinet and the banjo. So one of the Imaginary Bands I’m imagining lately falls somewhere on this continuum between the traditionalists and the post-modernists (depending on what I listened to last).

For a more traditional sound, I think soprano sax is considered an acceptable alternative to clarinet...and bass saxophone can fill in for a tuba, but bass saxophones will run you at least $8K. And I like the notion of having a band that just plays those summer evening concerts in the park and that sort of thing. And playing unpopular niche music is a wonderful thing, because you won't get too busy or think about quitting your day job.

For the more contemporary sound, my tenor and bari would be fine...the problem would be the difficulty in handling all players necessary to make that sort of band work. The other problem would be my lack of chops, but these Imaginary Bands always assume that I do some kind of crazy training montage practice routine and get really talented...

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