By Andy J. Gordon
Just one week after the New Orleans Saints’ fairy-tale Super Bowl victory, another New Orleans institution landed in Los Angeles. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band came to town to regale displaced New Orleans natives and L. A. fans with their unique blend of jazz, soul, funk, and improvisation. A delayed arrival was cause for concern by the Mint (www.themintla.com/) staff and a throng of restless fans. Their scheduled start time of 10 p.m. came and went as word trickled down through the crowd that their flight from Atlanta hit a snag due to snowy weather in Dallas. Not hitting the stage until 12:35 a.m. meant for a significantly shorter set than anticipated. However, they made up for it by stringing together an energetic set of songs that brought them right to the edge of the 2 a.m. curfew.
The band came to L. A. with their usual lineup, minus a trombone player. Roger Lewis on baritone sax, Kevin Harris on tenor sax, Gregory Davis and Efrem Towns on trumpet all displayed their great style with distinctive solos. Kirk Joseph on sousaphone was an unexpected treat who provided a solid bass line throughout the set. Joseph was one of the original members of the band, but left some time ago to do solo work, and to record with his own band. Terrence Higgins pounded out a steady, foot-tapping beat on the drum kit, and Jake Eckert played a steady rhythm guitar with an occasional solo. Sitting in for a couple of songs was Kevin O’Day on drums. O’Day’s band is doing a Monday night residency at the Mint, and he was a long-time New Orleans resident who played with Dirty Dozen members on many occasions in that music-centric town.
With both Mardi Gras and the recent Saints Super Bowl victory on the minds of the band members, the music was particularly festive. The band played some of their classic tunes and added some New Orleans standards like “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Cissy Strut,” and “Going to New Orleans.” Since the show started so late, there was no encore, but the band left the crowd stirred up and wanting more with their closer, “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now.” It may not have been Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but with authentic legends like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to lead the party, Los Angeles was treated to a very enjoyable re-creation of the real event.
Photos courtesy of Didier Chevalier.