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New Orleans Remix

New Orleans Remix

By Jack Sullivan
Series: American Made Music Series

Hardcover : 9781496815262, 232 pages, 42 b&w illustrations, October 2017

How New Orleans musicians perpetually renew a grand musical tradition from classical to jazz, funk, and beyond


Association of Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence
Best Historical Research in Recorded Jazz – Certificate of Merit (2018)

Since the 1990s, New Orleans has been experiencing its greatest musical renaissance since Louis Armstrong. Brass band, funk, hip hop, Mardi Gras Indian, zydeco, and other styles are rocking the city in new neighborhood bars far from the Bourbon Street tourist scene. Even “neotraditional” jazz players have emerged in startling numbers, making the old sound new for a younger generation.

In this book, Jack Sullivan shines the light on superb artists little known to the general public—Leroy Jones, Shamarr Allen, Kermit Ruffins, Topsy Chapman, Aurora Nealand, the Brass-A-Holics. He introduces as well a surge of female, Asian, and other previously marginalized groups that are making the vibe more inclusive than ever. New Orleans Remix covers artists who have broken into the national spotlight—the Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, Jon Batiste—and many creators who are still little known. Based on dozens of interviews and archival documents, this book delivers their perspectives on how they view their present in relation to a vital past.

The city of New Orleans has always held fiercely to the old even as it invented the new, a secret of its dynamic success. Marching tunes mingled with jazz, traditional jazz with bebop, Mardi Gras Indian percussion with funk, all producing wonderfully bewildering yet viable fusions. This book identifies the unique catalytic power of the city itself. Why did New Orleans spawn America's greatest vernacular music, and why does its musical fire still burn so fiercely, long after the great jazz eruptions in Chicago, Kansas City, and others declined? How does a tradition remain intensely creative for generations? How has the huge influx of immigrants to New Orleans, especially since Hurricane Katrina, contributed to the city's current musical harmony? This book seeks answers through the ideas of working musicians who represent very different sensibilities in voices often as eloquent as their music.


"Sullivan brings to life the musical renaissance that has been happening in recent decades in New Orleans by placing it in the context of that city’s long history as a hotbed of mingling musical genres."

- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

"It's a who's who of New Orleans music weighing in on what makes the city's style of playing so unique as well as the changes that the city has been experiencing over the past three decades."

- Stacey Leigh Bridewell, Offbeat

"A personality-driven examination of the various pieces that continuously merge to define the city’s identity. Entertaining in its verve and content, Sullivan provides for a new consideration of the recent history of New Orleans."

- Court Carney, Stephen F. Austin State University, Louisiana History

"Jack Sullivan can do it all. Whether writing about Victorian ghost stories, reviewing modern fiction, tracing the impact of American music on Europe, or analyzing the film scores of Alfred Hitchcock classics, this versatile scholar-critic brings to bear a deep knowledge of his subjects and a prose style of rare suppleness and grace. Yet as important as Sullivan's earlier books have been, this loving history of music in New Orleans, packed with first-person accounts of the contemporary 'remix' that began in the 1990s, may be his masterpiece, an irresistible blend of research and reporting that is as entertaining as it is insightful. You will read it with delight."

- Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of Classics for Pleasure; Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books; and other books about books