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In 1977 the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club in New Orleans began showcasing a traditional Crescent City brass band. It was a joining of two proud, but antiquated, traditions: social and pleasure clubs dated back over a century to a time when black southerners could rarely afford life insurance, and the clubs would provide proper funeral arrangements. Brass bands, early predecessors of jazz as we know it, would often follow the funeral procession playing somber dirges, then once the family of the deceased was out of earshot, burst into jubilant dance tunes as casual onlookers danced in the streets. By the late '70s, few of either existed. The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club decided to assemble this group as a house band, and over the course of these early gigs, the seven-member ensemble adopted the venue's name: the DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND.
A quarter-century later, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a world-famous music machine, whose name is synonymous with genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. They have revitalized the brass band in New Orleans and around the world, progressing from local parties, clubs, baseball games, and festivals in their early years to touring nearly constantly in the U.S. and in more than 30 other countries on five continents. The Dirty Dozen have been featured guests on albums by artists including David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Dr. John, and the Black Crowes. The city of New Orleans even has an official Dirty Dozen Brass Band Day.
The band's trademark style is a kinetic hybrid of traditional brass band marches, funk, R&B, bop, gospel, and rock that never fails to please their audience of frenzied dancers. Dirty Dozen has also performed a classical suite composed by trumpeter Gregory Davis, as well as accompanying modern dance troupes. Their stylistic range is limitless, as is their willingness to try new things.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band celebrated 25 years of making music with its ninth album, Medicated Magic (ropeadope, 2002). Their most recent release is Funeral for a Friend (ropea-dope, 2004).