New Orleans brass band Hot 8 are an example of community music, of a natural modern fusion that doesn’ feel forced or intellectualised. It’s the sound of the past and the future coalescing in a really unique and inspiring way. It’s the big band marching through the streets, bold and brassy, who lead the Zulu Parade at the Mardi Gras, tapping into dixieland, jazz, funk and hip hop all at the same time. The tuba provides the bass, most of the twelve sing, it’s hip hop with its traditions on its sleeve, it’s gospel from the street, loose and relaxed, with these incredible grooves and searing brass. Music has rarely felt so accessible, so alive. The high point is their cover of Marvin Gaye’ sexual healing, the version which brought them to the attention of English label Tru Thoughts, and makes this their debut cd absolutely essential. There’ no singing for the first two minutes, just the horns belting out the vocal lines over a little tuba polka. It’s positively triumphant, fist pumping stuff, and you can only imagine how these guys would go within the chaotic throng at Mardi Gras. When the vocals come, it’s group singing and handclaps, and it takes the song to a whole other place, altering the tone, altering the message, making it a rump shaking call to arms, or perhaps booty. This music is impossibly positive, post Hurricane Katrina, in a place, so neglected, that boasts the highest number of murders in the U.S, in a place that’s still virtually segregated, were the gaps between the have’ and have not’s seems to be widening its unbelievable that these guys can maintain such an outlook. Particularly when you consider that two of their members have died violently on the streets of New Orleans. But if you’ve ever questioned music’ capacity to heal, then consider Hot 8 a rebuttal. This music is incredible.