Can a band be sophisticated and funky? The Rebirth Brass Band says, “Yes it can!” on its new release, Move Your Body. Actually, the ensemble has been preaching that point for some time and perhaps never more so than on its Grammy-winning 2011 effort, Rebirth of New Orleans, and this follow-up album. Both albums were excellently produced by Tracey Freeman, who might remain best known for his work with Harry Connick, Jr.
The horn arrangements make Rebirth sound like a small, tightly knit orchestra as heard on the title track, “Move Your Body,” a song written in a collaboration between snare drummer Derrick Tabb, trumpeter Chadrick Honore (they co-produced) and trumpeter Derrick Shezbie. That polished illusion carries on throughout the album and becomes even more pronounced when the band backs up saxophonist Vincent Broussard’s hip, progressive solos.
Whether on the streets or in a club, call and response between a brass band and its audience never fails to get the party jumpin’. Several tunes use this tried-and-true crowd-pleasing approach. “Who’s Rockin’, Who’s Rollin’?” that was composed by the whole group asks the question, “Can you tell me where the party is?” The answer is, of course, “Right here!” Boasting a strong melody to accompany a driving riff, a solid trumpet solo and lots of hollerin’ and laughin’ going on in the background, the lyrics of “Rebirth Groove” call out, “If you gonna rock with me, let’s rock. If you gonna roll with me, let’s roll.” It’s easy to imagine folks enthusiastically ready to shout back to and with the Rebirth.
At a second line, there often comes a time to chill out a bit. With a suggestion of a skanking reggae rhythm, Broussard’s “On My Way” fills the bill with Philip Frazier’s tuba providing the essential bass line. Special guest Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews comes in for a fine solo and Tabb takes it out with a roll of the drums.
Andrews is one of a number of guests on the disc that includes his cousin Glen David Andrews’ distinctive voice on the opening number, the traditional hymn “Lord, Lord, Lord,” which is one of three non-originals. In a way, it’s similar to Rebirth beginning its Rebirth in New Orleans album by blowing on the 1930 chestnut, “Exactly like You.” Oddly, neither cut actually screams Rebirth.
Move Your Body keeps the Rebirth party goin’ with music played by musicians who know their stuff.