WANT TO GO?
Wine & All That Jazz
WHERE: University of Charleston riverbank lawn
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday
TICKETS: Advance $18, at the gate $20
INFO: 304-345-0775 or www.festivallcharleston.com
SCHEDULE: Ryan Kennedy Trio, 2 p.m.; Comparsa, 3:30 p.m.; Bob Thompson Unit, 5 p.m.; Samba Mapangala & Virunga, 6:40 p.m.; The Soul Rebels, 8 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What's in a name? A lot, if you ask Derrick Moss, one of the founders of New Orleans-based jazz band The Soul Rebels.
The Rebels perform Saturday at Wine & All That Jazz. The eight-piece brass ensemble has made a name for itself as a jazz outfit that incorporates soul, hip-hop, funk, country and just about anything else, all in a contemporary brass band format.
"It doesn't matter what it is," said Moss, who plays bass drum. "Rock 'n' roll, country. We do classical music, funk, soul... We 'rebelize' it."
It's a new, jazzy spin on pop music, but once upon a time, The Soul Rebels played a different kind of music and had a different name: the Young Olympia Brass Band.
"Some of us had known each other in the beginning," Moss said. "We got together from high school and marching band. Anyway, we all knew somebody in the Olympia Brass Band who brought us around. That was 1991."
Moss said it took the members of the Young Olympia Brass Band almost a year to hone their craft and really master the traditional jazz they were supposed to play.
"It was the Louis Armstrong stuff," he said. "We were young guys doing old music, and it was great to do that and be good at it, but there was also the Olympia Brass Band."
And they played the same sort of stuff, Moss said. In fact, he added, when the Young Olympia Brass Band toured Europe, they noticed there were a lot of bands from New Orleans playing traditional jazz, which was very popular.
He said, "But we wanted to add our own flavor to some of that stuff. We were doing the same songs as everybody else did. We started to add a little funkier beat to the songs, a little dance step, and the crowd loved it."
Moss said they sort of drifted from traditional jazz slowly, adding more contemporary songs here and there, putting little touches on popular tunes. The audience responded to the changes, which encouraged more and more until band realized that the little extras were the kind of music they wanted to play in first place.
"We just wanted to put our spin on new songs," Moss said. "At least, songs out in our lifetime."
Eventually, it just made sense to shed the old name. Cyrill Neville of The Neville Brothers gave the group its new name after the band became his opening act at Tipitina's Music Hall in New Orleans.
Moss said they've never really looked back.