Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Roger S. Nelson
2 min read
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Tuesday, Nov. 9; Launchpad (21 and over, 8 p.m.): New Orleans' infamous Dirty Dozen Brass Band took their name back in 1977 from one of the Crescent City's innumerable “Social and Pleasure” clubs, where the ensemble came together specifically to provide musical diversion for those who came to relax at the club.

The nine-man group comes to the Launchy this weekend in an effort to spread their funk and help locals get in the get-down-'n'-party, high-times mood. The “gimmick,” such that it is, is the replacement of the bass with Julius McKee's sousaphone, which in turn harks back to marching band days. There are lots of low-end shenanigans all over the place, what with solo emphasis on Sammie Williams tailgating, gator-tail trombone and Roger Lewis' baritone saxophone turns. The group's most persuasive soloists, however, are rock-inflected guitarist, James McLean (lots of Hendrixian wah work) and keyboardist Frederick Sanders, whose organ swirls a heady, bluesy gumbo obbligato underneath and through the massed horns.

In short, this is a band that seems tailor-made for a dance hall, despite their occasional forays into slightly more cerebral territory. On stage, they show themselves to be most infectious in the ensemble passages, especially when the members are given the freedom to create a caterwauling “group improvisation,” a move that again recalls the earliest days of organized New Orleans.

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