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May 1997

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The New Birth Brass Band

When I first pulled this CD out of the package, I thought that it was from the better-known Rebirth Brass Band. But this is the New Birth Brass Band. And when I noticed that the disk was produced by New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint, I figured it was going to be good.

But I was wrong. Instead, D-Boy is great!

New Birth is led by 27-year-old trumpeter/vocalist James Andrews. What makes this band special is Andrews' amazing vocal skills. He comes by his talents naturally, being the grandson of Jessie Hill (of "Ooh Pooh Pah Doo" fame). One of the best showcases for Andrews' voice is on the album's first cut, the standard "Mardi Gras In New Orleans." Then he gets to show off his abilities on trumpet on the excellent "You Got Yours." This song is over seven minutes of prolonged high energy, with the chorus rapping in the background and Andrews intermittently breaking into Louis Jordan riffs.

"Whoopin' Blues" is a rockin' blues instrumental, somewhat reminiscent of the bawdy classic "Walkin' Blues." Even more spirited is the aptly-named "Shakin' That Ass"; you'll be doing exactly that 30 seconds into the song.

New Birth demonstrates their heavy New Orleans roots with a great rendition of "Li'l Liza Jane." Andrews again shows his vocal prowess, while the rest of the band adds spirited background singing.

My favorite cut is the band's rendition of "Jesus On The Mainline," which they turn into a raucous party song. That's typical for this band; rooted in tradition, but not afraid to add their own contemporary style.

Your feet will be tapping from the start of D-Boy to finish. I can't wait to see these guys live!

- Bill Mitchell

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