Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Albert Brooks
When you see a New Orleans institution like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, you expect to get a real sense of the Big Easy – no more so than on Mardi Gras Weekend, and regardless of whether there are cars outside the theater that are buried in snow. “You know we’re not used to this,” leader Gregory Davis laughed as the band settled themselves onstage. Tenorman Kevin Harris stood next to him, wearing a large grey-and-black sweater and a scarf that was definitely not for show, while bari-sax player Roger Lewis sported a black Jerry Garcia Band t-shirt over another black, long-sleeved t-shirt. In short, Dirty Dozen was definitely out of its climatic element.
Nonetheless, with a little help from the audience (who would be called on to participate multiple times over the next 60 minutes), the band snuck into a delicious take on the Meters’ “Fiyo on the Bayou.” While Harris did blow up real good towards the end of the tune, solo licks were actually secondary. The same can be said for Davis’ vocals: As a singer, Davis is a terrific pocket trumpet player, and that didn’t matter one whit. As with most music straight outta NOLA, it’s the groove that’s the thing, and the groove was utterly bodacious as the rest of Dirty Dozen’s front line buoyed Harris’ rising attack.