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September 24, 1985 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-24

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Tuesday, September 24, 1985 Page 5

The Dirty Dozen: A ton of

bricks

By arwulf arwulf
'VE BE EN BRASSED this
r weekend, and it'll take awhile for
the echoes to recede. Brass horns,
direct and distinct as magnesium
flares, have followed me around, of-
fering their energies whenever
needed. Eighty years of Jazz raced by
me in one day.
{ Sunday dawned with hasty
preparations for a street appearance
Still wobbly from a night out with the
Persuasions at the Ark, I assembled
myself for Second Lining with th
Dirty Dozen Brass Band, schedule
to play in the street at the Ann Arbo
Art Association's block party on
Liberty twixt Ashley and Main.
. This was in celebration of the loth
anniversary of Eclipse Jazz, and th
eight piece New Orleans ensembl
was expected to appear at noon. Ca
trouble outside of Chicago, however
brought them in several hours late
although nobody seemed to mind a
Mr. B kept us busy with hot boogi
woogie and blues.

horn. He emulated the trombone
stylings of Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton,
built his own novel and greazy style,
split up with the Duke for a hiatus in
the late 40s and through the 50s.
He initially left to join Benny
Goodman. Then came a period of
wandering. There are some rarities
afoot, issued on a tiny label that
nobody's ever heard of, dating from
'44 and thereabouts, featuring some
names that I'd never associated with
Cootie: Bud Powell, Pearl Bailey,
- Cleanhead Vinson and Lockjaw
Davis. We were mightily grateful to
our chum Max Dehn, a freeform DJ
at CBN, for coming up with this un-'
speakably rare disc!
Cootie's return to the Ellington
organization came in 1962. He con-
tinued to play nastily and powerfully
for the remainder of the Duke's life,
and brought out his horn to assist the
Mercer Ellington band in waxing a
farewell LP in '74 when Duke left us.
Capping this two hour Cootie
E festival (and I must say this was ap-
d propriate) was the first airing of
r Lester Bowie's latest release. An
n ECM effort, and one of Lester's most
ambitious to date, "I Only Have Eyes
h For You" is a small riot in group im-
e provisational brass.
Lester, as you may know, is a foun-
r ding member of the Art Ensemble of
r Chicago, a clever devil up from St.
Louis, always appearing in his white
, lab coat and wire rimmed glasses.
His trumpet stylings stem directly
e from the virile maneuverings of

Cootie Williams. Lester has perfected
the rast, the smear, the blaaat, and
the shriek. He's an undeniable in-
fluence on young fellows, notably the
commercially successful Wynton
Marsalis, who incidentally has very
little patience with the tomfoolery of
which Lester is so fond.
This new LP features what Mr.
Bowie calls his "Brass Fantasy";
three trumpeters in addition to him-
self, two trombones, a french horn
and a tuba. The drummer is Philip
Wilson. Bob Stewart, the tuba.
The 'bones are held by Rahsaan
Roland Kirk's last trombonist, Steve
Turre, and the formidable Craig
Harris, who tore up with David
Murray's band recently, and has put
in some hard blowing with Sun Ra's
Arkestra.
The entire album is dynamite. The
title cut is undeniably the most
ominous treatment of the Busby
Berkeley romantic standard of the
1930s ever recorded. For this tune
alone the album stands as a master-
piece.'
I left the station in time to catch the
second set to the Dirty Dozen Brass
Band and the Union Ballroom. Unfor-
tunately the tuba player had fallen ill
just after the sound check, depriving
the ballroom audience of the big
sound we caught in the street that af-
ternoon.
They were in no way impeded by
this missing unit. You'd think a New
Orleans marching band would fall
apart without the backbone horn, for

this is the very testicles of the
operation. There has rarely been such
an energetic and stimulating perfor-
mance in this city. Certainly I have to
think back to the outdoor Blues and
Jazz Festivals to recall anything so
exciting.
Janell (Chi-Lite) Marshall sang and
rattled off the main beat on a snare
slung neatly in front of him. Benny
Jones pounded the bass drum, also
slung from his gyrating frame. This
beat entered every single crumb of
masonry, and the place shook
dangerously. Roger Lewis played
baritone sax and a tiny curved
soprano as well. Kevin Harris held
the trombone. And the trumpeters,
Gregory Davis and Efrem Towns,
blasted us mercilessly. The chairs
emptied as the crowd danced like
lunatics. The band descended the
stage and marched around the hall,
with a second line of 50 dancing in
their wake.
Eclipse Jazz is ten years old, and
they've gone and celebrated it in the
grand tradition of the Crescent City.
cootie is gone, and Lester has taken
another giant step on etched vinyl. Get
to your feet, put your arms in the air,
the music will keep happening for
ever and ever.
You can obtain your own copy
of Lester Bowie's latest album and
the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's disc
as well, by inquiring at
Schoolkid's Records or any other
hip record store in the Ann Arbor
area.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band played a stirring medley of New Orleans
jazz tunes at the Ann Arbor Art Association's block party.

II

I wore a slice of a truck's inner tube
on my head, with the time-worn
goggles and red skull cap, and a loud
blue & white hound's tooth suit.
Hanging from my shoulder was a
"rusty snare drum. On my back was a
wild assemblage of dead radios, WC-
BN bumper stickers, Hawaiian
Cyprus greens, ferns, lilies and
chrysanthemums, a guitar neck and a
plastic clown head donated by hip cab
driver and Jazzophile Greg Dahlberg.
This was all wired and twined to an
aluminum ariel antenna on a bamboo
frame. I carried pennywhitles, bells.
a tuning fork, and a steel clarinet
This boy is probably the area's only
non-Euclidian clarinettist. And,
propped up with gin and tonic, I stood
with my back to the Old Town, facing
the Fleetwood Diner, gently
squeaking an irrational blues. Yours
rin the war against boredom.
The Dozen arrived, all eight of
them, and began blowing a stirringly
ballsy medley of New Orleans stan-
dards. After the first minute I put my
horn aside and confined myself to
pounding the snare with a tin pen-
nywhistle. Liberty Street was packed
tight with grinning folds soaking in
the Real Thing, straight up from New
SOrleans, this their last stop on an
exhaustive tour. We cheered and
Wstomped as they gave us about 15
minutes right there in front of the
Liberty Inn.
John Sinclair stood smiling and
following their every move, delighted
to see them here in Treetown. John
has been telling me about the band
":ever since he caught them in New
Orleans a couple of Mardi Gras ago.
By his own admission he's gone quite
goofy on the subject, and given the
chance, he'll have another 50 poems
out on the subject in no time.
I wandered up to him and we ex-
changed pleasantries. Elsewhere I
have elaborated on what an inspiring
fellow John Sinclair was in the early
170s when he inadvertantly turned me
on to Sun Ra Colatrane, and a
thousand other creatures of wonder,
live and on records. Today, 1985, he's
still actively spreading the music.
The band had stopped, and were
saving up their energy for the gig
slated for that evening in the Union
Ballroom. I moved quickly, racing to
hit the radio station at six o'clock.
Having hosed off and gotten out of
that hideous suit, I slid into the WCBN
studios at one minute 'til, ready to
team up with the honorable Dave
Crippen for a special two hour tribute
to the recently departed Cootie
Williams, ace trumpeter from the
Duke Ellington orchestra.
Cootie's trademark was the plunger
mute, (the plumber's helper), while
he could be just as sassy on the open
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