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Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Musicians / Band

Music Note
  • Brass Band
  • Contemporary Jazz
  • Funk
  • R&B
  • Rock
  • Traditional Jazz
  • Drums
  • Saxophone
  • Trombone
  • Trumpet
  • Tuba/Sousaphone

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band launched in 1977, at a time when New Orleans brass bands were dwindling and the traditions of street parading were dying out. The Dozen revolutionized – and revitalized - the traditional brass band genre by injecting funk and modern jazz styles and building a setlist chock full of contemporary hits. The Dirty Dozen set the stage for today’s brass band movement, and were a major influence on New Orleans music.  The Dirty Dozen emerged from a 1970s youth marching band program run by legendary musician Danny Barker, which evolved into the Hurricane (later, Tornado) Brass Band. But in the age of disco, traditional jazz was considered stale, and bookings were thin. A few members, however, along with drummer Benny Jones, continued to practice together, often at the Dirty Dozen Social Aid and Pleasure Club in the Treme neighborhood. With only themselves to please, they added jazz progressions and started having fun with popular songs – acts considered heresy in some traditional jazz circles. Audiences reacted with fervor to their high-energy performances and fresh repertoire. The word got out through now-legendary shows at Daryl’s and The Glasshouse, and the Dozen were soon getting gigs in New York, California, and overseas – especially in Europe. Their 1984 debut album, “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now,” included the anthemic original title cut and covers of tunes by Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious Monk. The world sat up and took notice. Major label contracts and a global audience established the band – and their sound – as both ground-breaking and enduring. Today, the Dirty Dozen has played on five continents and recorded nearly 20 albums. The band has collaborated with many major artists over the past four decades, ranging from Danny Barker, Dizzy Gillespie and Branford Marsalis to Elvis Costello, Joe Henry, Buddy Guy, DJ Logic, and Modest Mouse. They have toured as headliners and in support of bands like Widespread Panic and The Black Crowes to the 50th anniversary tour of The Doobie Brothers. The current lineup includes four original members: Roger Lewis, Kevin Harris, Gregory Davis, and Kirk Joseph, along with T. J. Norris, Julian Addison, and Takeshi Shimmura. Other original members included Benny Jones, Charles Joseph, Efrem Townes, and Jenell Marsh. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band can be heard at festivals and venues around the world, and on several television programs, films, and other media, including a particularly memorable NPR “Tiny Desk” concert. They sowed the seeds for today’s healthy brass band scene in New Orleans and beyond, and remain a vibrant reminder of the elasticity and resilience of New Orleans musical culture.

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