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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

May 20, 2009

He's the big man with the big baritone horn in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Roger Lewis took a few minutes to talk with me last week as he recovered from a busy New Orleans Heritage Festival. The DDBB hits the road this week for yet another busy summer, celebrating 30 years of grooving together. They will be here in Western Massachusetts on May 21 at the Iron Horse Music Hall.
Lewis is a living encyclopedia of New Orleans music,having played the “chitlin circuit” with New Orleans legends like the late pianist Eddie Bo, singer Irma Thomas and the legendary Fats Domino. He attended Southern University, where he hooked up with trombonist Charles Joseph, who was a factor in his joining the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Despite the inevitable personnel changes, thirty years later, they are still going strong.
A survivor of Hurricane Katrina, Lewis lost his home in the storm and resulting levee breach. He continues to rebuild and play in town, with bands like the Treme Brass Band (for second-line parades and jazz funerals), and Delfeayo Marsalis' Big Band.
Podcast 145 is an interview with Mr. Lewis and overview of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's sound, including memorable tunes like:

Dirty Dozen Brass Band - "Bongo Beep" from My Feet Can't Fail Me Now. This is the 25th anniversary of the release of the DDBB's salute to their favorite jazz standards. Roger points out in the interview that listeners still wonder how they played so fast on this cover of the Charlie Parker tune.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band - "Kidd Jordan's Second Line" from The New Orleans Album. A 1989 album featuring guest appearances by New Orleans legends Eddie Bo, Danny Barker and Dave Bartholomew, as well as Elvis Costello. The song was written for them by Edward "Kidd" Jordan, a professor at Southern University at New Orleans who was crucial is putting the group together.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band - "I Shall Not Be Moved" from Funeral For a Friend. Howard Morris' song is part of the suite of material the DDBB chose for their critically acclaimed "New Orleans Jazz Funeral" album. For those unfamiliar with the importance of musical accompaniment to burial in the Big Easy, check out this excerpt from Wikipedia:
A typical jazz funeral begins with a march by the family, friends, and a brass band from the home, funeral home or church to the cemetery. Throughout the march, the band plays somber dirges and hymns. A change in the tenor of the ceremony takes place, after either the deceased is buried, or the hearse leaves the procession and members of the procession say their final good bye and they "cut the body loose". After this the music becomes more upbeat, often starting with a hymn or spiritual number played in a swinging fashion, then going into popular hot tunes. There is raucous music and cathartic dancing where onlookers join in to celebrate the life of the deceased. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the second line, and their style of dancing, in which they walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called second lining.
New Orleans Online also has an article worth reading on the history of the Jazz Funeral.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band - "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" from What's Going On. In response to Hurricane Katrina, the DDBB worked with friends and musical collaborators alike from rapper Chuck Dto singer Bettye LaVette to recreate Marvin Gaye's classic album through the prism of the resulting confusion of post-hurricane New Orleans. This track includes G. Love on vocal, over an electrifying horn chart.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band - "Dirty Old Man" recorded live in Las Vegas May 10, 2008. Roger's "theme song" ("I'm a Dirty Old Man/Dirty Old Man/I Feel Like Spanking Somebody!") is usually the tune that send the audience home grooving on his baritone sax line.