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A Joyful Southern Music Parade in St. Louis

The Dixie Hummingbirds.
The Dixie Hummingbirds.

Brass bands and modern jazz experienced a mutual renaissance in New Orleans in the 1970s. Right off the bat, the new Dirty Dozen Brass Band made two revolutionary moves. First, Kirk Joseph's sousaphone playing is virtuosic; no matter how complicated the bass line, he will make you move. Second, the band picked up the tempos. The old-timers said, "You're playing too fast for a marching band," but the new generation liked to dance to it.

In New Orleans and on the road, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is busier than ever today. It played several dates in Colorado in January, it's going to Europe in March, and on May 3, it'll play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The Dixie Hummingbirds came together in South Carolina in the late 1920s. Founder James B. Davis, who had retired in 1984, died almost a year ago in 2007. Ira Tucker (Sr.) joined in 1938, when he was 13, and he's still lead singer. In the 1940s, a golden age for gospel singing, the Hummingbirds moved up to Philadelphia. Their high-energy performances inspired many imitators, including James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. In 1973, The Dixie Hummingbirds sang back-up for Paul Simon on "Loves Me Like a Rock." The group's new CD is The Last Man Standing.

This concert was originally recorded at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, Mo., on March 31, 2006.


Field producer and recording engineer Paul Hennerich, with assistance from Lee Buckalew. Thanks to Dale Benz and the staff at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Bridgewater was recorded at Studio-line Studios near Paris. Technical director Duke Markos, producer Becca Pulliam, executive producer Thurston Briscoe III at Jazz 88 WBGO in Newark, N.J.

Copyright 2008 WBGO