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Pauline Lerner

Portraits in jazz

August 2, 2006 at 9:17 AM

The Hot 8 Brass band

I had so much fun listening to the Hot 8 Brass Band, from New Orleans, when they played at the Smithsonian Folk Festival earlier this summer. They are hot! I heard them first onstage and later at a nighttime jam party. I got to listen to them, photograph them, and dance to their music twice. At the jam party, I even had a chance to talk to them. When I feel PO’d about doing volunteer work at the nighttime party, I just remind myself of these things.

The sousaphone particularly interested me. It is a huge instrument, exactly like the tuba except that its long tube is configured differently. In the tuba, the tubing is coiled into a relatively compact shape, but in the sousaphone, the tubing wraps around the body of its player, giving the impression of a giant serpent ensnaring its human prey. It weighs about 40 lb, so the player must be sturdy, especially if he is marching while “wearing” it.

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