Dirty Dozen Brass Band

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a New Orleans, Louisiana, brass band. The ensemble was established in 1977 by Benny Jones and members of the Tornado Brass Band. The Dirty Dozen revolutionized the New Orleans brass band style by incorporating funk and bebop into the traditional New Orleans jazz style, and since has been a major influence on local music.

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In New Orleans in 1977, the Original Sixth Ward Dirty Dozen band was born in the city's Treme neighborhood. Coming out of the 100-plus-year tradition of the local social club scene -- in this case, the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club -- they started rehearsing with no other goal than playing in the club. Eventually renaming themselves the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, they played for years before they began performing steady gigs at a Seventh Ward night spot and later at another uptown club. The DDBB built an enormous repertoire, and in the process innovated on the brass brand tradition, which was flagging very badly at the time. They incorporated funk, bebop, and more into their sound. The DDBB started a renaissance; they influenced every brass band that came after them. Twenty Dozen, produced by Scott Billington, is their twelfth album. Original members Gregory Davis (trumpet, vocals), Roger Lewis (baritone, soprano sax), Kevin Harris (tenor saxophone), Efrem Towns (trumpet, flügelhorn), and Kirk Joseph (sousaphone) are rounded out by Terence Higgins (drums), Kyle Roussel (keyboards), and former member Jake Eckert (guitar). The jazz and funk are in the marrow now, but this time, Caribbean and West African tinges are added to the mix. The 11 cuts here include seven originals, a cover of Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music," and two brass band standards: "E-Flat Blues" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." On the opener, "Tomorrow," the funky grooves established by Eckert's guitar and guest B-3 by Nigel Hall introduce a killer ska horn vamp that is drenched in joy. "Jook" plays on Nigerian Afro-beat with a forceful arrangement that cross-pollinates with reggae -- the baritone solo by Lewis just pops. "Best of All" showcases highlife married to Caribbean calypso with killer interplay between the brass and guitar. The bassline played by Joseph's sousaphone and Higgins' drumming drives the tune from deep in the cut. The Jackson tune is the most unique cover of the song to date (check Higgins' drumming in the intro). Trombonist Corey Henry guests on it too. Tradition also plays a big part in the album: "Paul Barbarin's Second Line" is faithful, with a knotty guitar line in the back, and the two standards underscore heritage as it meets harmonic invention. Lewis' funktastic, hilarious "Dirty Old Man" sends the listener away -- hopefully -- dancing her ass off. Twenty Dozen proves that, although there are many fine brass bands in the Crescent City, the DDBB are still the kings.
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