It’s that time of year again, when the parades roll, the beads fly and the Panorama Brass Band emerges from its eleven-month hibernation. This time they’ve brought a CD, cut in February of last year. The title refers to the time between Krewe du Vieux and Mardi Gras when the Panorama Jazz Band augments its regular lineup with an assortment of musical ex-pats and wades out into the streets.
Panorama is one of the most reliably rousing musical presences during Carnival, and 17 Days reminds us why. We get a traditional hymn, an Eastern European Jewish freylekh, and of course a Serbian cocek. I could rhapsodize for the umpteenth time about all the different styles in which Panorama trades, but what’s most absorbing about the present record is how smoothly it all goes together. Whatever Panorama plays, they make it sound right. That’s no small task for a second-line group playing an 18th-Century Haydn chorale.
If the studio setting seems too stuffy for a marching group, have no fear. The album closer, “Grazin’ in the Grass,” brings us Panorama in their natural habitat. Recorded last year during the Box of Wine Parade on Fat Sunday, it captures the band belting out a second line standard while enveloped in rollicking street noise. Topping it all off is a cameo by an NOPD siren, rolling gracefully in and then out of earshot.