The Dirty Dozen Brass Band will bring the sound of New Orleans to Kenyon with a concert Feb. 12, a visit prompted in part by the Jazz Ensemble’s planned spring break trip to the city to perform.
“Since we can't bring all of Gambier to New Orleans with us, I wanted to bring a little New Orleans to Gambier,” said Professor of Music Ted Buehrer ’91, who specializes in jazz and directs the ensemble.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band concert at 8 p.m. in Rosse Hall is one of a variety of events scheduled on campus for Black History Month.
“Given the group's history and cultural roots, its music is a celebration of African American music traditions,” Buehrer said.
The group, which led the resurgence of brass band jazz music in New Orleans when it formed in the ’70s, plays an energetic mix of jazz tunes, originals and even pop covers, which have included songs by Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. The band performs around the world and with artists from Elvis Costello to Norah Jones to Dizzy Gillespie to Dr. John.
Buehrer said the College has brought in many jazz artists in his time here, but never a New Orleans-style brass band.
The show is sure to be upbeat, soulful, danceable and downright fun, he said. “This is a special opportunity to hear and experience a style of music that is filled with the spirit and energy of New Orleans.”
The band’s music relies on worked-out arrangements but leaves room for solo and collective improvisation, hallmarks of traditional New Orleans jazz, he said.
The city’s brass bands that developed as jazz did in the 1920s would provide music for various functions around town, including parties, dances, parades, funerals and picnics, he said. When the Dirty Dozen Brass Band formed decades later, it updated the sound by adding an electric guitar or synthesizer and a more contemporary drum set to the traditional horns.
Plus, the group modernized the style of music, blending traditional jazz with blues, R&B and funk. The resulting sound became popular and led to the rise of several other New Orleans-based brass bands that play a similar fusion, such as Soul Rebels Brass Band, the Hot 8, Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty, Buehrer said.