Meet The Dirty Dozen

You guys are rock n roll’s brass band. Can you tell me how it was different for you in the 70’s compared to bands that are incorporating jazz into the current jam scene, like Galactic?

We always had brass bands in New Orleans. We always had young people. When we came out people told us we changed things. Every brass band was playing traditional music, the kind that they play in churches. We came out with Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and our own originals. It took off. What I think caught the jazz community was the bee-bop and the avant-garde tunes. We put the beat to them so that everybody could dance. People want to dance when they come to a club. You gotta give them something to make them move their bodies! We seemed to have created that type of vibe for all of the brass influenced bands that are coming out now in New Orleans and beyond. You can hear that Dirty Dozen in them.

Considering New Orleans had a Caribbean vibe and voodoo was brought to the Gulf States from Haiti, can you talk to me a little about how that has affected the culture?

People believe in that, you know. It is their religion. People believe if they take a lock of your hair and mix it with something or put it under a candle that things could happen. People used to go to spiritualists if they thought things were going bad in their home or with their man and they would have a potion conjured up to have control over him. [Laughter] I don’t want to say it’s bullshit, but hey!

The three epicenters of jazz in America are obviously New Orleans, Chicago, and New York. Can you talk to me about your experiences as a musician in New York and if you found any value of the jazz coming out of the city?

When you go to New York you play a little different because you got so many critics up there. I think the last time we went to New York one of the writers said, we were ‘living off past experience’. [laughter] He really didn’t like us at that particular time, maybe he was having a bad night, I don’t know. The people always enjoy the show and we come back. That says a lot. People have opinions on what they think. As long as they are talking about you that is all that really matters. When I first came to New York it was with Fats Domino and I was excited. I hadn’t ever been to New York man! I can’t play around people that move this fast [laughter]. I tried to go to the deli down the block and people were bumping into me. I said, ‘man it’s fast up here!’ There is a different energy there. People are fast and they are very intellectual. Everybody was on the hustle because you have to hustle to live there cause it costs a lot of money. You gotta be on your game. I am always excited to come and play New York.

-Martin Halo –

“We know for sure we’ll shake up the house at the end, get the ladies up and everybody rockin’ and rollin’ and makin’ em do all kinds of exotic things. We’re a party band, what can I say.”