By NATE CHINEN
The Rebirth Brass Band ended its full-throttle show at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday night more or less swarmed, yielding the stage to an eager throng. This of course was a handy bit of showmanship, timed to coincide with several of the band’s best-loved New Orleans anthems (“Feel Like Funkin’ It Up,” “Cassanova,” “Do Whatcha Wanna”) and with the climax of accumulated energies in the room. But it was also an affirmation of core principles. A stage is little more than a platform for the Rebirth Brass Band, and the distance it imposes on an audience is a passing inconvenience, even on the road.
Rebirth, as the band is often hailed at home, has barely deviated from the formula set by its leader, the sousaphone player Phil Frazier, in 1983. Commingling parade-band protocols with the more ragged aspects of jazz and funk — “junk music” is Mr. Frazier’s term for the crossbred result — the group chases down euphoria one boisterous groove at a time. In New Orleans the band plays most Tuesday nights at the Maple Leaf Bar, where the main space accommodates about as many people as the Brooklyn Bowl stage.
This was a stop on the road in support of a sturdy new album, “Rebirth of New Orleans,” on the Basin Street label. (The band is traveling most of this month, before returning home in time for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This summer it will headline “A Night in Treme,” a tour pegged to the HBO series.) At times there was a hint of the routine in the show’s pacing, but never a flagging of intensity. And the newer songs held their ground against the classics: “I Like It Like That,” with a churning beat, a blaring trumpet lead and a puttering riff for saxophone and trombone, was as exhilarating as anything else in the set.
Rebirth’s trademark is loose precision, unruly at the granular level but cohesive on the whole. Mr. Frazier and his brother, Keith Frazier, who plays bass drum, held down a resilient low end; the tenor saxophonist Vincent Broussard and the trombonist Corey Henry maintained the mid-range, often sparring on the fly.
Two assertive trumpeters, Glen Andrews and Derrick Shezbie, carried most of the melodies, arranged in fortified octaves or a resplendent unison. (In “What Goes Around Comes Around” they also traded eight-bar solo bursts.) As for the snare drummer, Derrick Tabb, his second-line rhythms and syncopated rudiments gave the music its kinetic thrust, riveting and funky.Thursday’s show happened to precede Bowl Train, a weekly late-night D.J. set by Questlove, the drummer with the Roots. Specializing in myriad strains of R&B — one stretch had him transitioning from Sunshine Anderson’s “Heard It All Before” into the Heavy D remix of Soul for Real’s “Candy Rain,” into signature hits by Experience Unlimited and Soul II Soul — he made at least one nod to the occasion. His first track was a brass-band version of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” It was probably the one by the Youngblood Brass Band, not Rebirth, but the resonance was clear enough.