Jazz funerals and brass bands

  • Danny Barker


Natives of New Orleans generally stop and watch in wonderment at the physical behavior of tourists and their reaction on witnessing the city’s famous jazz funerals. Tourists behave in many strange ways on seeing their first funeral. First, it’s the sound of the brass bands, the booming sounds of the big bass horn and the big bass drum. The sad wailing notes of the horns always hit you deep inside. If that soul music don’t get to you, something’s wrong with you. Then there is always the large crowd of many hundreds of ordinary people who follow the funeral procession from start to finish, because after the deceased brother has been taken to the cemetery and interred pandemonium breaks loose—from silent, respectful, slow marching to the cemetery in a sudden burst of approval, “A job well done,” “He was put away nicely,” “He’s in God’s hands.” And as the Bible states, “Cry when you enter the world and rejoice when you leave trials, troubles, tribulations behind.” Black folks in New Orleans have been practicing this social custom many, many years. Old writers relate of such funerals way back in the slave days.


Funeral Director Black Folk False Friend Onion Juice Funeral Procession 
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© Danny Barker 1986

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  • Danny Barker

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