Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Glenn Kaplowitz
You just know that you’re gonna be partyin’ hearty when the opening night of the Bridge Jazz Festival coincides with the kick-off of Mardi Gras weekend, and NOLA faves the Dirty Dozen Brass Band are providing the soundtrack at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
The party kicked off with the blast of second-line polyrhythmic propulsion that was “Voodoo” fueled by drummer Julian Addison and leather-lunged sousaphone master Kirk Joseph, who upped the sousafunk level with some judicious wah-wah pedaling. Really… Of course, DDBB have never been brass band traditionalists.
That was followed by a righteous romp through Professor Longhair’s Fat Tuesday anthem “Big Chief” (with trumpeter Efrem Towns shouting the vocals while trumpeter Gregory Davis handled the requisite whistling chores), which was hot-wired together in a medley with Dizzy Gillespie’s “Oop-Pop-a-Dah.”
By then nearly everyone in the theater was on their feet and movin’ to the groove as the seven-piece Crescent City combo pumped out a non-stop string of deep-dish funk that stretched from the old Sinatra standard “Fly Me to the Moon” (led by tireless baritone saxman Roger Lewis) to a dip into the James Brown songbag.
Soon the call-and-response with the crowd was getting louder, and Towns was playing two horns at once – flugelhorn with his left hand and trumpet with his right.
Yeah, that’s a party – Big Easy-style.
Eldar Djangirov and his trio opened the evening with a rambunctious, churning 50-minute set that stretched from a rhythmically challenging Coldplay deconstruction to a muscular re-invention of Michael Brecker’s “Point of View” (featuring a mighty drum solo from Eric Doob) to a playful take on the standard “Willow Weep for Me.”
But the former child piano prodigy – now 30 years old – was at maximum impact on his own original compositions, eschewing the usual verse-chorus-bridge format for more classically oriented constructions on dense, knotty nuggets like the opening “Airport,” the dark, cross-handed rumble of “Blackjack” and the dizzying, head-spinning gallop through “The Exorcist.”
Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette