Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

It's a given that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is America's premier New Orleans brass-soul-funk-carnival party band, but over the past few years, the group has been quietly expanding its already broad horizons.

A splendid 2006 interpretation of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" album, explorations of jam band motifs and collaborations with hip rockers Modest Mouse and Spoon have all helped the landmark outfit further its reputation as relentless innovators.

But at the State Theatre last night, the septet was mainly interested in stirring the holiday weekend party pot, so a small but enthusiastic crowd was treated to two hours of prime DDBB celebration music.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

It's easy to overlook how effortless the group's genre-blending really is when the five horns of the band's touring lineup lay into crunching groove and after crunching groove.

But over two sets, everything from "Little Liza Jane" to "Me Like It Like That" to takes on Fats Domino, classic second-line parade struts and an incisive version of the title track of Gaye's "What's Going On" were run through an astonishing blender.

For those inclined to ponder rather than join the percolating couples that spread out across the State's dance floor, there were bits of Cuban music, scratchy '70s funk, raunchy R&B and hip-hop vernacular to be savored, all presided over by trumpeters/vocalists/leaders Gregory Davis and Efrem Towns.

But when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band makes up its mind to keep it down and dirty -- which the musicians certainly did most of last night -- thinking simply becomes counterintuitive.

-- PATRICK FOSTER

By J. Freedom du Lac |  May 25, 2009; 5:11 PM ET Live Last Night
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