“Eclectic,” “funk,” and “soulful” are all used-to-death phrases in the dictionary of musical jargon. However, no band breathes new life to those tired sentiments or represents the funky Mardi Gras spirit more than The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Danny Loong of Timbre, part of the team responsible for bringing them here, feels that Singaporeans deserve their own Mardi Gras. And what better band to bring that spirit here than this New Orleans band whose tremendous and, indeed, varied musical talents will dazzle and spoil local audiences.
Formed almost three decades ago in 1977, this band is a slice of living musical history. They have played with the likes of the great revivalist Danny Barker and the ethereal rocker David Bowie. They also count an immensely diverse bunch of musical talents as fans and collaborators: Like the father of bebop and modern jazz, Dizzy Gillespie, and the renowned rocker, Elvis Costello.
The sheer variety of performers they have played with is a reflection of their musical style. As you would expect from a brass band, they were originally inspired by the typical brass band sound of the time, playing the standard brass repertoire of second-line jazz funerals and parade anthems. They quickly branched out, however, bringing the brass band sound to previously uncharted territory. Their genius lay in being able to incorporate contemporary jazz sounds from the likes of Duke Ellington, James Brown and the more avant-garde, like John Coltrane and even Michael Jackson, into their music.
This cacophony of different musical sounds creates what the band’s saxophone player Roger Lewis calls a “musical jumbo,” which is given The Dirty Dozen Brass Band signature up-tempo makeover. In the words of Lewis, during their second-line parades people had to “have their jogging suits on just to keep in step!” The band also have some truly awesome originals to their name as well, such as “Hannibal,” making this is a band that reminds us what is really meant by “genre-defying.”
If the pedigree of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is anything to go by, we can expect great things from Timbre’s new concert series.