Celebrating 40 years since their founding in 1977, New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band has taken the traditional foundation of brass band music and incorporated it into a blend of genres including bebop jazz, funk and R&B/soul. This unique sound, described by the band as a “musical gumbo,” has allowed the Dirty Dozen to tour across five continents and 30 countries, record 12 studio albums and collaborate with a range of artists from Modest Mouse to Widespread Panic to Norah Jones. Forty years later, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a world-famous music machine whose name is synonymous with genre-bending romps and high-octane performances.
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 at the time: 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.