Home History The tradition of traditional jazz funerals

The tradition of traditional jazz funerals

funeral procession

This 16mm film footage, recorded by Jules Cahn and housed at The Historic New Orleans Collection, shows the stages of a traditional jazz funeral. (THNOC, 2000.78.4.20)

Second lines and brass bands are among our city’s musical staples, but did you know that a traditional jazz funeral consists of two parts?

This 1966 footage illustrates components in the funeral procession for trumpeter Avery “Kid” Howard (b. 1908). First, a slow dirge is played on the somber walk to Howard’s grave and continues while the body is interred. Then, the music turns upbeat on the way from the cemetery, drawing a “second line” of outside participants.

This film was recorded by Jules Cahn (1916-1995), a New Orleans native who documented local musicians and culture, including jazz funerals.

– Teresa Devlin, The Historic New Orleans Collection

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