Gregory Davis - vocals, trumpet; Roger Lewis - baritone and soprano sax; Jamie Mclean - lead and rhythm guitars; Kevin Harris - tenor sax; Terrence Higgins - drums; Efrem Towns - trumpet, flugelhorn; Revert Andrews - trombone; Julius McKee - sousaphone
This recording of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band was captured at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee on June 15, 2008. This sharp recording catches the group at their loose, funky best. The set opens with the wah-wah-driven "Charlie Dozen." The number features some incredible guitar work from Jamie Mclean. They follow "Charlie Dozen" up with another energetic number, "Handa Wanda." This song shows off their New Orleans jazz roots.
One of the show's big highlights comes next, with the politically-charged "What's Goin' On," which is an interesting interpretation of the famous Marvin Gaye song. The DDBB started playing this song after Hurricane Katrina, and the listener can really feel the passion the group plays this with. Though the show is full of great songs, anyone who has ever spent anytime in New Orleans has heard their iconic version of "When the Saints Go Marching In." If you haven't heard it, you must, and they put out a thrilling performance of the Crescent City classic.
For their 30-plus year history, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has been a New Orleans staple, and this recording shows why. The way they expertly meld expert musicianship, undeniable passion, powerful lyrics, and the laid-back, fun loving style of New Orleans is truly second to none. New Orleans' Dirty Dozen Brass Band was formed by drummer Benny Jones in 1977. The group has been stretching the boundaries of the traditional New Orleans Brass Band sound, by adding touches of funk, jazz, and bebop, ever since. Their first record, My Feet Can't Fail Me Now (Concord Jazz, 1984) garnered them a strong buzz, which took them on tours of Europe and the US.
From there, they released over 15 full-length records, including two with the popular jam band Widespread Panic. They have also worked with Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as Crescent City legends, Dr. John and Brandford Marsalis.
Through the years, their style has slightly veered away from the traditional brass band sound, as they added guitars, keyboards, and a solitary drummer (on a kit) in the mid-'90s. Though they have branched out, purists and newcomers alike rejoice at their fresh, genre-bending sound. The group was a major influence on many popular young brass bands, such as the Soul Rebels and Rebirth Brass Band. The band made it possible for these groups to experiment with different styles, which helps the genre maintain its relevance as musical trends come and go. Though they will always be at home in the dingy jazz clubs of New Orleans, the Dirty Dozen continues to rock crowds around the world.