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POP : On Your Feet for the Big Brass : The Proper Salute to Dirty Dozen Rhythms

January 31, 1991|MIKE BOEHM | Mike Boehm covers pop music for The Times Orange County Edition.

A person could get worked into a mental tizzy trying to keep track of the different stylistic currents that start swirling around when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band begins to blow.

However, the lively octet from New Orleans would just as soon have its listeners do most of their thinking with their feet.

The Dirty Dozen, made up of six horn players and two drummers, originated in 1977 with a fairly straightforward aim: to keep alive the old New Orleans brass band tradition. Part of the job included playing the jumping "second line" rhythms required for an old-fashioned New Orleans jazz funeral, rhythms that would cap a sad occasion with a sense of joyful, dancing release. The band started out playing fetes for the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club--hence the name.

The Dirty Dozen still keeps a rhythmic foundation designed to send people dancing through the streets. Snare drummer Jenell Marshall and bass drummer Lionel Batiste beat time against the sousaphone blasts of Kirk Joseph, whose supple, motion-filled lines are meaty enough to make a listener wonder why rock bands bother with anything as puny as a bass guitar.

The rest of the horn section, featuring trumpeters Gregory Davis and Efrem Towns, saxophonists Roger Lewis and Kevin Harris, and trombone player Charles Joseph, is capable of playing honking R & B, or moving into wild, multi-part modern jazz variations. The Dirty Dozen has released four albums since 1984, and its often-humorous repertoire runs the gamut from Stevie Wonder to T-Bone Walker, from Duke Ellington to Professor Longhair, from Charlie Parker to a traditional New Orleans dirge to a medley combining the "Flintstones" theme and "The Star Spangled Banner."

The Dirty Dozen's assortment of collaborators is another indication of its range. On its most recent release, "The New Orleans Album," Elvis Costello lends a throaty R & B vocal to one track, returning the favor he received when the Dirty Dozen accompanied him on three tracks from his 1989 album, "Spike." The Dirty Dozen has also found ways to blend talents with Dizzy Gillespie, Dr. John, Branford Marsalis and Dave Bartholomew, right-hand man to Fats Domino. At Bogart's, Phil Alvin, the Blasters' lead singer who worked with the Dirty Dozen on his 1986 solo album, "Unsung Songs," is expected to sit in. But "sit" is used advisedly with the Dirty Dozen, whose rallying cry is a song entitled "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now."

Who: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

When: Friday, Feb. 1, at 9:30 p.m. With Kevin Doherty.

Where: Bogart's, in the Marina Pacifica Mall, 6288 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach.

Whereabouts: Pacific Coast Highway north to the Marina Pacifica Mall--on the left, just past 2nd Street.

Wherewithal: $15.

Where to Call: (213) 594-8975.

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