Interview with trumpeter, bandleader and scholar, Brice Miller

  This interview will be of great interest for anyone with an interest in New Orleans musical traditions and culture. That doesn't cover all that is opened up here, however.  Much is also explored on the relation of the music to the history of the city and the many unfortunate changes of late.  it speaks a lot to musical meaning in general- something important to everyone- so worth every bit of attention.

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      Brice's picture of these things is heightened by the authority of his experiences as brass band leader, and by the fact that his Father came from the same tradition.  He grew up in the stories and transmissions of a previous generation of New Orleans musician and has an intimate experience of that life. He is old enough to chronicle some change himself.  He has traveled the world as a representative of this tradition with its cornucopia of beautiful, rhythmic music.


His interests and inquiry do not stop there... 

      Brice is also currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama for an interdisciplinary degree with an emphasis on New Orleans brass bands after Hurricane Katrina. He has a MA in Education Administration. There is much discussion of his focus in the interview also and this ends up speaking of the horrors of intentional community displacement and the results of that in New Orleans's ongoing identity and survival struggles.

       And then there is talk of the fascinating tales of Ecirb Müller:  revelations and perspective coming to light at a club near you.


Part 1

- Dissertation subject; growing up in the brass band tradition; outside negative views of brass band traditions;  Paul Barbarin and Brice's father; Doc Paulin; Fairview Baptist Brass Band and Danny Barker; Pinstripe Brass Band beginnings from the Mahoganny Brass Band; the development of contemporary brass band style; Brice's early second line experiences that drew him in; commodification of indigenous cultures and resultant viewpoints about Brass Bands; Helen Regis; Masters in Education Administration; Decentralization of New Orleans schools; anger from Hurricane Katrina that even affected viewpoint on brass band music; world travel enabled by brass bands; ability for itinerancy; mentoring and its demise; loss of the Treme music community fabric due to the Hurricane; Tally's Corner, Chicago and the study of poverty; lack of ownership being the root of post-disaster divisions


Part 2

Mentorship in the brass band community; Milton Batiste; Eureka brass band; waning of the early brass band interest; resurgence in interest by inserting more contemporary sounds; Tuba Fats; Danny Barker; Second line; The Dirty Dozen Brass Band; participatory music; The Rebirth Brass Band; Role of marching bands in the development of brass bands; Junior Pinstripe brass band; brass band repertoire evolution; mentorship in the current generation; cultural history, heritage, racial history, and the legacies and stories carried in brass band music; working as Jazz Studies coordinator; the transfer of misinformation by outsider commentary on the music; TBC; drug dependency in the community; Ecirb Müller Jassum Band and why Brice has decided to use this form of communication now; storytelling; should Art be entertainment?; Louis Armstrong

Part 3

This comes after a very long pause in putting interviews up, but I'm glad to be posting the concluding parts of Brice's interview from the Summer of 2013. 

Brass bands in other parts of the United States; the "mythical" Congo Square; the role of formal musical education in the development early jazz artists- Buddy Bolden; brass bands around the world; jazz funerals, 2nd lines, benevolent societies and their roles in solidifying the place of people of color in the city- the taking of it; why brass bands in New Orleans have outlived the traditions in other cities; political needs for brass bands; more on cultural mentorship, cultural capital, social capital; the relation of brass band music to other musics in the city;  Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Nicholas Payton- their start associated with the brass band tradition; being able to speak collectively; Trombone Shorty; the difficulties of talking to music press and their false ideas of what audiences will find interesting; the maligning or ignoring of intellectual sides to musicians in the press; coming out of depression after Katrina; the way that Brice's identity was used and became a caricature after the storm;  going to the University of Alabama; telling the story of real New Orleans music, and the 200 year history of brass bands, honestly; the indignity of the reduction of all narratives of people of color to slavery; the influence of personal understanding of history on personal identity development; final comments- retelling your own stories.