| Back to

This Week
About JazzSet
Tune In
E-mail JazzSet


The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Dixie Hummingbirds

JazzSet presents a Gospel group founded in the 1920s in South Carolina, and a My-Feet-Can't-Fail-Me-Now brass band from New Orleans. These two groups wound up a short tour together in St. Louis at the Sheldon Concert Hall on March 31, 2006, and on JazzSet.

Dirty Dozen jazz band (top); Dixie Hummingbirds (bottom)

The Dixie Hummingbirds came together in South Carolina in the 1920s. Leader Ira Tucker joined in 1938, when he was 13. The decade of the 1940s was a golden age of gospel singing, and the Hummingbirds moved up to Philadelphia. Their high-energy performances inspired many imitators; one inspired imitator was James Brown, the godfather of soul and master showman. In 1973, the Dixie Hummingbirds sang back-up for Paul Simon on "Loves Me Like a Rock." In 2003 they celebrated 75 years in gospel music with the CD Diamond Jubilation. Their youngest member also has the lowest voice. He's Cornell McKnight, a part-time host on WRTI, our JazzSet station in Philadelphia.

Brass bands and modern jazz had a mutual renaissance in New Orleans in the 1970s. Right off the bat, the new Dirty Dozen Brass Band made two revolutionary moves. First, Kirk Joseph's sousaphone playing is virtuosic. No matter how complicated the bass line, he will make you move. And second, the band picked up the tempos. The old-timers said "You're playing too fast for a marching band," but the new generation liked to dance to it. In New Orleans and mostly on the road, this band is busier than ever today.

Since Sept. 11, Iraq, the tsunamis, earthquakes, and finally the hurricanes including Katrina, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has been wondering What's Goin On? In fact, their newest CD (on Ropeadope) is a brass band remake of the classic Marvin Gaye LP from the Vietnam era, entitled What's Goin On.

Dixie Hummingbirds
William Bright
Willie Coleman, bass
Lyndon Jones, guitar
Cornell McKnight
Torry Nettles, drums
Abraham Rice
Ira Tucker, Sr.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Gregory Davis and Efrem Towns, trumpets
Revert Andrews, trombone
Kevin Harris, tenor sax
Roger Lewis, baritone sax
Jamie McLean, guitar
Terence Higgins, drums
Kirk Joseph, sousaphone

Dixie Hummingbirds
Who Are We? (Tucker)
God's Radar
Love Your Fellow Man
He Watches Out for You and Me
Loves Me like a Rock (encore)

Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Jesus on the Main Line
John the Revelator (from the early blues recordings by Blind Willie Johnson and Son House)
Big Chief (Professor Longhair)

Dixie Hummingbirds and Dirty Dozen Brass Band
I'll Fly Away

Dixie Hummingbirds

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Jazz at the Sheldon

Field Producer and recording engineer Paul Hennerich with assistance from Lee Buckalew.
Thanks to Dale Benz and the staff at the Sheldon.
Ms. Bridgewater was recorded at Studio-line studios near Paris.
Technical Director Duke Markos, Producer Becca Pulliam, Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III at Jazz 88 WBGO in Newark, NJ.

Copyright 2007 NPR