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The Dukes of Dixieland are 'Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival' [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Nov 13, 2015 11:47 AM EST

It was a glorious day made even more glorious by the shockingly medicinal music of Louisiana's own Dukes Of Dixieland as they plied their craft in front of us Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (self-released). When the set was over, we mopped our brow, drank, laughed, flirted and hobnobbed with each other to compare notes of the uplifting -- and almost religious -- experience we had just been through together. Believe me, it was positively cleansing. I know I'll never forget it. Now it's on CD, and everyone can feel the vibe. Soon, I was pushing my way backstage to properly gush.

Twenty years of performing on the Steamboat Natchez as it slowly makes its way up and down the mighty Mississippi River on its fabled dinner cruise seven nights a week, 45 weeks a year, will certainly hone your craft for you. On this set, they pull out all the stops and play material by Louie Prima, Allen Toussaint ("Java"), Dr. John ("Sing Sing Sing"), Tom Waits ("I Wish I Was In New Orleans"), Jerry Lee Lewis ("Great Balls Of Fire") and three from Duke Ellington (including his 1927 "East St. Louis Toodle-oo," popularized anew in 1974 by Steely Dan).

Trumpeter/bandleader Kevin Clark told me, "I think all of New Orleans music has a certain feel, a grittiness to it. It's 'dirt under your fingernails music.'"

Forty-one years ago, it was one of Pete Fountain's men, cornet player Connie Jones, who branched out and formed this swinging aggregation. They had their own nightclub in the French Quarter before rolling on the river since 1992. Clark led the band from 1989 to 2002 and again from 2010 to today.

"The band has always had great players," Clark continued, "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."

Brother, if you have to be explained to, you ain't hearing it!

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TagsDukes of Dixieland, REVIEW, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans

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