Dirty Dozen promise brassy musical celebration
Latest News | August 10, 2016
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On Thursday, at least two generations of Big Easy musicians who have extended the brass band traditions will perform at the Music Box downtown. Expect a rousing, dance-happy romp by a veteran act and a rising new contender.
Formed in 2013, the New Breed Brass Band includes snare drummer Jenard Andrews, the son of New Orleans music star Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. They are one of the latest additions to the brass band legacy and eager to draw in young new fans.
Formed in 1977, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band counts Dizzy Gillespie, Norah Jones and Elvis Costello among its past collaborators. The group’s performance at last year’s KAABOO Del Mar was a highlight of that three-day music marathon.
Trumpeter Gregory Davis and bartione saxophonist, who co-founded the Dirty Dozen, are still on board today. For a Sunday flashback, here’s our Union-Tribune interview with Davis from 1989, the same year the band collaborated with Costello on his classic album, “Spike.”.
Band's boast: Dirty Dozen will outdo anyone
By George Varga
"In my opinion, we can out-party, out-jam and out-groove any band, whether it be rock, jazz, blues, soul, big band, whatever," said Dirty Dozen Brass Band trumpeter Gregory Davis, a man who doesn't toot his own horn without good reason.
Happily, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is an excellent reason for boasting. This group of notorious show-stealers has a reputation for upstaging other artists that is as long and colorful as the rich New Orleans heritage its music draws from.
Previous Dirty Dozen "victims" range from the late Buddy Rich to the hard-rocking Fabulous Thunderbirds, and dozens of other performers who have shared a stage with this rambunctious band.
Accordingly, headlining artists frequently request to perform before the Dirty Dozen, as jazz saxophonist Chico Freeman did when the Dirty Dozen was slated to open for him at the San Diego Jazz Festival's "Jazz At The Lyceum" series here two years ago.
The latest example of the Dirty Dozen's musical domination occurs on Elvis Costello's brilliant new album, "Spike." Its dazzling instrumental work on a song called "Stalin Malone" so impressed Costello that he decided to omit his vocal from the final version.
And, on the Dirty Dozen's rousing new CBS album, "Voodoo," the eight-man group inspires be-bop trumpet great Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and singer-pianist Dr. John to give some of its best performances in recent memory. A rollicking affair from start to finish, "Voodoo" ranges from Charlie Parker's classic "Moose The Mooche" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Oop Pop a Dah," to Stevie Wonder's "Don't Drive Drunk," Bobby Womack's ebullient "It's All Over Now" and the bawdy "Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On" by San Diego's Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham.
"If somebody asked me why they should listen to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, I'd say, `Do you like Duke Ellington, James Brown, Thelonius Monk, War, Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power or Elvis Costello?' Because, if you do, you'll like us," said Davis, a founding member of the dozen-year-old band.
Once described as "avant-garde traditionalists," the Dirty Dozen updates New Orleans' brass-band legacy with consistently rewarding (and frequently uproarious) results. Its eclecticism initially offended many purists, who took offense that a band originally formed to play at New Orleans funerals and social club gatherings dared to cover songs by the likes of pop superstar Michael Jackson, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and rock pioneer Professor Longhair.
"It worked out better that we were shunned at first, because if we'd been accepted, we'd be like any other brass band now," Davis, said. "Because we couldn't get work at first, we started playing (non-traditional) things we wanted to try out. Once we started getting work, we decided to keep at it."
The Dirty Dozen ranges in age from 26-year-old trumpeter Efrem Towns to 45-year-old baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis, a 10-year veteran of the Fats Domino Band. Other members of the group are tenor saxophonist Kevin Harris, bass drummer Lionel Baptiste, snare drummer Jenell Marshall and brothers Charles and Kirk Joseph on trombone and tuba, respectively.
A top concert attraction in Europe and Japan, the Dirty Dozen has drawn crowds of 30,000 to hear to its adventurous, rhythmically infectious music.
Yet, while it has two other excellent albums to its credit, the band remains largely unknown in its homeland.
"Why aren't we famous? Because it takes somebody, the right person, to see you and want to have it happen. If we can get our foot in the door, we can do the rest," said Davis, 32, who cites the band's recent collaboration with Costello and new CBS Records contract as positive steps.
Davis was so impressed by Costello that he hopes the English musician will guest on the band's next album. Expecting a stereotypical "English rocker," Davis was delighted to encounter a skilled songwriter with an extensive knowledge of music.
"I was expecting basic rock stuff, but when he explained some of the stuff he wanted to do and started playing it on guitar, it was unbelievable. His songs had a lot of chord changes, and we had to really think and plan what we were going to do. It was an education.
"He was a hundred times hipper than we expected. It was like he wanted us to put our stamp on it, and at the same time go through everything note by note. What made it so interesting is that, while he can't write music, he was able to play on guitar or sing whatever he wanted us to play. He was not just a strummer; he could play the ideas he wanted to come out of the horns. It was beautiful."
To promote its new album, the Dirty Dozen will begin an extended U.S. concert tour next month. No San Diego date has been announced yet, but Davis offered sage advice to any potential concertgoers.
"When you come out to hear us, it's OK to have a good time, because you are paying and we don't give refunds. We've had people come to hear us expecting a traditional brass band, but I've never had anyone tell me they were disappointed," he said proudly.
"By the time our show's over, I want it to look like there was a party. I want the people who clean up to feel needed!"
Source: sandiegouniontribune Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Chris Monaghan photo
Dating back at least 150 years, the New Orleans brass band tradition has been a cornerstone of vibrant cultural traditions in Louisiana’s fabled Crescent City, most notably jazz.