Thursday, September 15, 2005

September 15, 2005

The Jazz Funeral

The New Orleans jazz funeral derives from both the Dahomean and Yoruba cultures of West Africa. The joyful music and exuberant dancing which follow the funeral rites reflect the belief that death is a gateway to the domain of the spirits. Rejoicing at death also has been the African-American's response to a life of enslavement and oppression. Death was a triumph of redemption, an escape to freedom and an end to weary troubles. Although jazz funerals are rarer today, they still take place especially for jazz musicians.

The jazz funeral follows a detailed formula. The band accompanies the family, friends and the casket from the home or funeral home, to the church. After the funeral service, the mourners either march to the cemetery, or they "Cut the body loose" (send the hearse off to the cemetery). Up to this point the procession is solemn and the band plays dirges adopted from French martial music.

As soon as they "cut the body loose" or leave the cemetery, however, the band strikes up a joyous sound and everyone dances back to the home of the deceased or church hall, with others joining in along the way.

But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there is still too much suffering, too much death, and too little peace to start the dancing. There is work to be done to ease the survivors' suffering, and to bring the too, too many dead to rest. DON~


sttropezbutler said...

Lovely DonDon.....



BostonPobble said...

These pictures, combined with your words... ~ sigh ~ Perhaps, though, now is the exact time to start dancing in the streets so we can celebrate the lives of those who have died. Seems to me, anyway, the jazz funeral is more important the crazier/more painful life is. Let's Celebrate the lives these people lived. Of course...that and a buck fifty... ;)