Galactic - Ya-ka-may

By Graham Reid

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Galactic. Photo / Supplied
Galactic. Photo / Supplied

New Orleans may have been the birthplace of jazz and home to funky pianists (Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, Dr John), but in the 90s a new form of hip-hop (called bounce) came up from the streets incorporating punchy rhythms and second-line bass parts which drew from New Orleans funeral marches.

The bruising bounce movement - soundtrack to the dangerous wards outside the tourist enclaves - was the subject of Nick Cohn's excellent book Tricksta: Life and Death in New Orleans Rap. New Orleans - more so since Katrina - has changed and the swinging, funky Galactic invite old school stars (Irma Thomas, Toussaint, singer John Boutte) to share space with Cheeky Blakk and gender-bending rappers Big Freedia, Katey Red and Sissy Nobby.

This brassy gumbo of styles (the title is a local all-ingredients soup) comes off like a rollicking block party, and despite the diversity of artists it's coherent because of Galactic's big band funk and the musical lineage between New Orleans jazz, blues, r'n'b and bounce.

Not everything works (Toussaint seems wasted on Bacchus, Cineramascope with Trombone Shorty goes nowhere in a noisy way) but this is a joyous lesson in how musical styles can come together because they share the same soul'n'spirit origins in "the city that care forgot".

Then got washed away.

- Graham Reid (elsewhere.co.nz)

- NZ Herald

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