Dukes of Dixieland ladle heaping helping of New Orleans jazz in live album
By: Carol Banks Weber AXS Contributor Feb 19, 2016 17 hours ago1649416473976165417617y2016m02d19
Six New Orleans musicians strong, the Dukes of Dixieland deliver gritty, rollicking music for a live audience from the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Photo courtesy of Dukes of Dixieland and DL Media, used with permission
Dukes of Dixieland’s May 2, 2015 performance at last year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a sonic snapshot of what audiences the world over look for in a live show. The six-man crew of the historic New Orleans band captured the set for a Sept. 18, 2015 release, available at JazzFestLive.com and produced by MunckMix.
The singing’s fairly basic; it’s nothing to write home about (sorry, Kevin Clark, Joe Kennedy, Alan Broome, David Phy). But nobody really cares, because the music’s pumping and the band’s having a grand old time catering to all the audience favorites from a tried-and-true nightly repertoire on board the Steamboat Natchez by the Mississippi River. It’s a dinner cruise type of gig the Dukes of Dixieland have held for going on two decades, every night of the week, 45 weeks out of the year.
“All the tunes that we do on the new album are songs that the guests that we play for every day enjoy listening to,” bandleader/trumpeter Kevin Clark explained in a DL Media release. “You can see them light up when we play those particular songs; they’re fan favorites. Maybe that’s because they don’t expect us to make a departure from traditional jazz, though everything we do keeps one foot planted in New Orleans music.”
All 12 tunes in the live set give the band a mixed bag of styles to choose from — with a New Orleans twist: stuff by Louis Prima (“Sing, Sing, Sing/I Wanna Be Like You [Jungle Book]”), Duke Ellington (“Ko Ko,” “Caravan/Angelica”), Tom Waits (“I Wish I Was In New Orleans”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Shakin’/Chantilly Lace/Great Balls Of Fire”), Allen Toussaint (“Java”), Huey “Piano” Smith (“Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie-Woogie Flu”), Bobby Goldsboro (“Voodoo Woman”), and Dr. John (“Such a Night,” “Down Home Girl”).
Both the instrumentals and vocals contribute to that live party vibe everyone goes for at a music festival such as the popular, anything-goes New Orleans Jazzfest.
“Playing for that crowd, you know that when they’re applauding and into it, you’re doing it right. We always get a good response out there, and when that many people scream and yell, it’s inspiring and amps the band up even more. It captures that over-the-top New Orleans vibe,” Clark added.
The Dukes of Dixieland are no mere cover band, though. They naturally infuse a New Orleans sensibility to their audience favorites, what Clark calls “a grittiness. It’s ‘dirt under your fingernails’ music.”
That is why the vocals aren’t pure, polished perfection in the realm of a Broadway belter, or even a Kurt Elling. The vocals sound straight from the streets, just as pure, but real relatable, from one partier to another, sharing the same sense of fun and good times from the stage direct to the audience. Audiences can relate to that everyman deal, whether the band grooves into “New Orleans R&B Medley,” “I Wish I Was In New Orleans,” “Voodoo Woman,” or “Shakin’/Chantilly Lace/Great Balls Of Fire” — even if the vocals themselves aren’t pitch-perfect. Pitch-perfect vocals wouldn’t exactly fit in with this crowd.
It’s actually the music that keeps the audience interested, up and dancing — the reason for any lively crowd at every outdoor festival. The musicianship of the six band members is off the charts.
They play everything, in and out of ballads and frivolous come-ons, oozing Zoot Suit cool. They are Clark, who left the band after a 13-year run in 2002 but came back in 2010; pianist “Big Joe” Kennedy; bassist Alan Broome; trombonist Dr. David Phy; reedman Ryan Burrage (clarinet, sax); and drummer David Mahoney.
Once Clark came back, he tried to bring a tighter focus on pure entertainment for the audience.
“The band has always had great players,” Clark continued in the DL Media release, “but what I bring to the table is the conviction that people want to be entertained; they don’t want a history lesson. We’re like a show band that plays New Orleans music: everything’s tight and there’s no down time to explain what we’re doing.”
“Sing, Sing, Sing/I Wanna Be Like You (Jungle Book)” really drives home the R&B band’s Zoot Suit clamor, from the boss percussive opening to the horns overlapping the funk with every intentional step, in the way a bayou funeral procession takes on a dreamy, tempestuous quality.
“Stevedore Stomp” really gives the people in the audience a chance to shake, rattle, roll, and swing if they want to. The horn players and the bassist are the movers and shakers in this big parade band piece, throwing up herbaceous notes into the air like confetti, celebrating nihilism with abandon.
Bassist Broome really got the crowd going with his Tom Waits/Louis Armstrong imitation on, “I Wish I Was In New Orleans,” one of several, crowd-pleasing vocal numbers in the live album. As much as this performance was an overly attenuated impersonation, he nailed the gritty nature of the “red beans and rice” Crescent City. His band mates did their part, playing just enough of the familiar Second Line to flesh out the party.
Bop-N-Jazz When Country Meets Dixie Review
Street Date 02/28/12
OakRidge Boys Meet the DUKES of Dixieland
Oak Ridge Boys Meet the Dukes of Dixieland
by Vernell Hackett
Cross-genre collaborations are nothing new, but few are as interesting as the upcoming album, 'When Country Meets Dixie,' which combines the talents of the Oak Ridge Boys and the Dukes of Dixieland brass band. Imagine a Dixieland band behind the country quartet's monster '80s hit, 'Elvira.' Or the big band sound of New Orleans jazz with trumpet, trombone, clarinet and sax backing the Oaks' gospel tunes.
"I don't think there is any way possible to sing or listen to Dixieland music without being happy," Duane Allen, the Oaks lead singer, tells The Boot. "The idea of working with the Dukes brought smiles to our faces because, even though we did not know exactly where it would wind up, we knew the journey would be fun."
The recording was hatched by the two groups' managers, John Shoup and Jim Halsey. The idea sparked over dinner, and before dessert and coffee were served, a plan was formulated. In just a few short hours, the core outline for 'When Country Meets Dixie' was born. Finalizing the deal was just a matter of telling the Oaks and the Dukes the studio date, and bringing on veteran producer James Stroud to oversee the project.
"Initially, we wanted to have this little get-together to see if it worked musically," explains James, who has produced a list of country greats including Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Chris Young. "We wanted to incorporate some of the sounds the Dukes brought from New Orleans and combine it with what the Oak Ridge Boys bring with their history and successes in gospel and country. The project wound up creating its own sound. The album is the result of two great American art forms colliding. It's the most unique thing that we may hear musically for a long time."
Meeting in a Nashville recording studio over a year ago, the Dukes and the Oak Ridge Boys combined their talents to record four songs together. Among them is a remake of the Oaks' 1981 smash, 'Elvira.' Combining the energy and sounds of Dixieland and the harmonies of the Oaks gave the 30-year-old song a funky ragtime groove. They also recorded a version of 'Little Talk With Jesus' that has the distinctive Oaks sound with a side of Dixieland thrown in. Another Oaks hit, 'Bobbie Sue,' takes on a rumba-boogie interpretation and the gospel classic, 'Unclouded Day' has an authentic New Orleans street beat.
To Duane, Dixieland jazz is "organized improvisation." He says recording with the Dukes was an interesting experience.
"When they were in the studio with us, sometimes it seemed that they were just doing 'whatever the felt like doing' and maybe they were. However, they all knew where they were going, how they were going to get there, and when they would all arrive at the same place. It was like listening to, and watching, organized chaos. But it was so much fun, hearing our songs with the kick and energy of the Dukes, duking it out on our songs."
Other songs on the CD include the Tennessee Ernie Ford novelty tune 'Fatback Louisiana' and Ernest Tubb's 'Nails in My Coffin.' Also included is the ballad 'Back in New Orleans.' Newcomer Callaway McCord gives a rousing rendition of Hank Williams' 'Jambalaya,' Fats Domino's 'I'm Walkin',' and Rockin' Sidney's zydeco classic, 'Don't Mess with My Toot Toot.' Another newcomer, Lathan Moore, sings 'Are You From Dixie,' 'Just a Closer Walk With Thee' and 'I Can't Fight the Moonlight.'
The Dukes, official Goodwill Ambassadors for the City of New Orleans, have been on the city's notorious music scene since 1974. Their Dixieland sound has been combined with orchestras including the Boston Pops and New York Pops in Carnegie Hall. Previous collaborations have included working with former Blood Sweat & Tears singer Luther Kent and a gospel CD with Moses Hogan and the New Orleans Gospel Choir. The group's home base for the past 20 years has been the Steamboat Natchez in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Duane says that while nothing is firm at this time, there has been talk of the two groups doing some shows together. In the meantime, the Oak Ridge Boys have a new gospel project that "covers about every decade of gospel music," he says. "New songs, familiar songs, spiritual songs, classics, and a few surprises." It was produced by Ben Isaacs of the Isaacs and will be out in May.
'When Country Meets Dixie' will be in stores on Feb. 28.
Examiner.com Country Dixie Review
Country meets Dixie
The result is a new sound and one of the most irresistable set of tracks ever produced by either group. It is clear the performers enjoyed working together. The songs benefit from the hybrid of historical New Orleans beat and Nashville twang, meeting most successfully in renditions of gospel favorites.
Consider such songs as Little Talk with Jesus and Unclouded Day, popular gospel tunes backed with Dixieland rhythms. Or think about a Dixieland remake of the Oak Ridge Boys well-known Elvira and Bobby Sue. The booming quartet (Duane Allen, Joe Bonsell, Richard Sterban and William Lee Golden) sound even better backed by the accomplished Dixieland masters Kevin Clarke, Ben Smith, Ryan Burrage, Scott Obenschain, Aan Broome and JJ Juliano. Obenschein also adds his piano skills to the opening track, That's What I Like about the South.
The cd also contains tracks from other performers. Wesley Probst does his versions of Tennessee Ernie Ford's Fatback Louisiana and Ernest Tubb's Nails in My Coffin. Bobby John Henry, part of Nashville's All American Redneck Bread Factory, renders the ballad Back in New Orleans.
Callaway McCord bounces through Hank Williams' Jambalaya, Fats Dominio's I'm Walkin and Rockin' Sidney's Don't Mess with My Toot Toot. Lathan Moore slows down the modd with Are You from Dixie? and Just a Closer Walk with Thee.
Lovers of old time gospel and country harmony and of Dixieland's rowdy beats and rowdier performers will play this cd repeatedly. Others will choose favorite tracks suitable to mood of the day. Either way, the cd is a success and a maajor addition to both groups' achievements.