In their prime, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band successfully mixed together R&B with the instrumentation of a New Orleans brass band.
Featuring Kirk Joseph on sousaphone playing with the agility of an electric bassist, the group revitalized the brass band tradition, opening up the repertoire and inspiring some younger groups to imitate its boldness. Generally featuring five horns (two trumpets, one trombone, and two saxes) along with the sousaphone, a snare drummer, and a bass drummer, the DDBB were innovative in their own way, making fine recordings for Rounder, Columbia, and the George Wein Collection (the latter released through Concord). Guest artists have included Dr. John, Dizzy Gillespie, and Danny Barker. The DDBB re-emerged in 1999 with John Medeski as their producer, and many called the group's Buck Jump release a return to classic form. The group then returned in 2002 with yet another surprising album, Medicated Magic. Two years later, the band made its Artemis label debut with Funeral for a Friend. In 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the DDBB issued their most ambitious album to date, What's Going On, a wide-ranging musical tour de force that was a track-for-track remake of Marvin Gaye's classic 1971 album. In addition to the DDBB, it also featured the talents of many musicians from the Crescent City. The album was not so much a response to Hurricane Katrina itself, but to the subsequent treatment of New Orleanians by the city government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 2011, the group issued My Feet Can't Fail Me Now, a further extrapolation on Crescent City traditions wedded to hip-hop, modern R&B, funk, and rock. In the spring of 2012, DDBB issued the more traditional Twenty Dozen, their debut offering for Savoy Jazz. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi