Terence Higgins: Grooves For A Jazz Funeral

A Jazz Funeral

By Terence Higgins Originally Published in DRUM! Magazine's June 2009 Issue

The Jazz Funeral is a New Orleans tradition that derives from the cultures of West Africa and also serves as the incubator for second-line drumming. On the way to the cemetery, it is customary to play what is called a dirge. The dirge originated from old military bands during the Civil War. This very slow cadence is played during the funeral procession from the church to the grave site and is also accompanied by a mournful and solemn old negro spiritual such as “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.” but on the return from the cemetery, the band plays upbeat traditional tunes such as “Didn’t He Ramble” or “I’ll Fly Away” and the celebration begins.

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