Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen [tuba], Kermit Ruffin, George Johnson,
Milton Batiste, Kenneth Terry [trumpets], Elliot Callier, Darryl Adams
[saxophones], Eddie Paris [trombone], Andrew Greene, Benny Jones, Gerald
French [drums], Reide Kaiser [piano], Emil Mark [banjo]
Lady Be Good, Mardi Gras Iko, Food Stamps, In the Sweet Bye & Bye,
St. Louis Blues, Big Leg Woman, Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Those Were
the Days, Red Dress, When the Saints Go Marching In, Panama Rag, Bye &
Bye, Thunderstorm, Lily of the Valley
Tuba Fats Chosen Few - "Street Music"
Underground Rag—Internet Music Site
Oh man, I can’t tell you how good this shit sounds tonight. After a few days spent listening to almost nothing but Nuevo Gypsy Swing followed by a morning in the hospital (I don’t even want to think about that, much less write about it) I was fairly dying for something unhygienic. And this gets the nut all the way! This is big-hearted, good-natured, rough and sloppy music oozing the gunk of life. Hearing Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen farting his large horn on the beat puts everything to right. There’s nothing measured or hesitant or cautious about it. This is Brass Band music that swings. It’s shot through with an easy funk and soul. This is the sort of music that gets you laughing for no good reason at all (which is, of course, the best reason of all).
The first part of this was recorded in 1985 and released on the microscopic Syla label. It then promptly disappeared. Luckily Big Bill Bissonnette of Jazz Crusade Records has been good enough to burn Tuba Fats’ copy of the LP to CD and re-release it along with 4 additional cuts recorded in 2002. Those additional cuts don’t quite measure up to the 9 preceding them, but they’re not bad in their own right. However, it’s those first 9 tracks that keep me coming back. Those are the numbers the title is derived from. And Street Music is an apt name. Prior to his death last year, Tuba Fats was an unrepentant New Orleans street musician and this sounds like a street band. It’s loud and carefree. This makes the stuff I’ve been listening to all week sound tight assed.
If you’re into the more modern Brass Band stuff - The Re-Birth Brass Band, The New Birth Brass Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and their ilk - this disc might come off sounding a bit too relaxed for you. This music isn’t about riffing or working a tight-knit funk. This stuff is about getting loose. And today I prefer this to the more driving sounds of those more current bands. A lot of their music comes of sounding angry to me. I’ve got enough anger happening. I need an antidote, not another trigger.
One of the things about this music that gets me is that although it’s steeped in “The Tradition”, it’s not made hidebound by it. The whiff of the museum doesn’t hang over these sounds. This music is entirely of its time. In fact, I probably would have liked this music back when I still mistakenly thought Jazz was for dilettantes too inhibited to work up an appreciation for the sweaty side of life. I think this disc would have turned my head around quick. Instead all I ever seemed to hear was that mewling, Miles Davis sort of crap. Bosh! But that’s how it goes. The good stuff is almost always hidden. To get to the main line you’ve got to claw away all that accepted bullshit.
It’s really no surprise that a giant like Tuba Fats has remained so obscure. After all, this is a guy who once said, "I don't need to be a millionaire. If I want to play on the street, that's my business.” When’s the last time you heard anything that déclassé drop from the mouth of a Jazz musician? Fuck. If only there were more like him.
jazzeview.com - Internet Publication
Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen has been a fixture in New Orleans'
famed Jackson Square for a quarter of a century. Tuba Fats is probably
one of the most recognized people in the Crescent City because of the
many TV ads and promotional films in which he appears. If you've ever
seen the TV spot with a marching band flaunting a visit to the birthplace
of jazz, you've seen the smiling face of Anthony Lacen.
Beginning with the late Danny Barker's "Fairview Baptist Church Brass
Band", Lacen has played with just about every famous marching band
in the past 40 years. Name a band! The Eureka, Onward, Olympia and Tuxedo
- Fats was there. He was among the founding members of the famed Dirty
Dozen Brass Band .
Several months ago, Jazz Crusade released their first Tuba Fats Chosen
Few Jazzmen issue. When that CD was introduced, reviewers were told that
the label had negotiated to reissue the tuba player's 1985 vinyl recording
on compact disc. Collectors are well aware that the Syla LP is as scarce
as hen's teeth today, making this an event. The music is even more exciting
than anyone imagined .
The songs are traditional New Orleans fare with an individual twist applied
by the colorful leader. Fats Lacen never rests and the speakers vibrate
with the intensity and joy of his tuba attack. A great sense of humor
resides in Lacen's ample body. The band's treatment of the blues, Big
Leg Woman is really a tip of the hat to Thelonious Monk. The melody of
Blue Monk brings a smile, if not a hearty laugh, to the listener. The
tune is followed by a "killer" track. Professor Longhair's Mardi
Gras In New Orleans becomes the object of attack by three trumpets, twin
saxes, two drummers, Tuba Fats and "Funky Chops" Paris. Milton
Batiste provides a fine vocal and some of the most exciting whistling
you've heard since Big Noise From Winnetka .
A review wouldn't be complete without mention of the two reedmen who contribute
so much to the success of the music of both the 1985 and 2002 bands. Tenor
man, Elliot "Stackman" Callier and Darryl "Little Jazz"
Adams are tireless in their contributions. Both players swing wildly and
have ample solo space on every track. A great example is Panama Rag .
Trombonist, Eddie Boh "Funky Chops" Paris at first seemed to
be a reincarnation of Big Jim Robinson but after the first few moments
proved to be highly original. Paris contributes a technique that is not
duplicated in New Orleans today. Listen to his solo work on Thunderstorm
and Saints . Although When The Saints Go Marching In is always the last
song I play on any album, this one is an exception. Trumpeters, Kermit
Ruffin and George Johnson turn a worn-out tune into a barn-burning gem.
This is a fabulous recording and if you must have a New Orleans in your
collection, this is it . Play it at your next party and you won't have
to yell "Feet Git a Moving." This is street music as you've
never heard it before.
- Richard Bourcer
Boxell's Jazz Website
Well Big Bill Bissonnette finally prised a pristine copy of the LP Street
Music from the hands of Tuba fats and re-issued it together with four
tracks left over from the 'Tuba fats' Chosen Jazzmen CD.
Throw away any perceptions you may have of a New Orleans street marching
band being ok on the streets to walk behind, but a pain in the arse to
listen to on the stereo. Ok, so at times it can frighten the dogs (personal
experience!), but if you keep the volume within reason whilst the pets
are around you can play this anywhere and to anyone. I know as I sneaked
it on to a CD player at work the other week and got no complaints, in
fact it raised a few smiles.
The first nine tracks are from the Brass Band LP and were recorded in
1985. Full of excitement and verve they are the very best of New Orleans
marching music and the bandsmen excellent whether ensemble or solo. Of
the tracks, I fell in love with 'In The Sweet Bye & Bye', though why
it was allowed to fade out whilst the alto was wailing up a storm I can't
understand, nor can I understand why 'Those Were The Days' is only 1:34
long with a fade in and fade out. Shame really, as I wanted to hear more.
Any other drawbacks? Well there is the odd pop & whistle (and I am
not talking about Milton Batiste's contribution on 'Mardi Gras In New
Orleans') from faults on the master. One day, when I am retired, I will
copy the CD onto my Hard Drive and re-edit them out. Ok, so you think
they add character to the sound, fine, but I am gonna get them varmits
one day. But they are a minor irritation and few and far between, it is
just me and my search for perfection.
The final four tracks complete the 2002 recordings of the Chosen Few Jazzmen
reviewed elsewhere. The sound is similar but the change in line-up, particularly
the dropping of the second trumpet and the use of a drum kit rather than
separate snare and bass drum makes subtle changes to the output. I raved
when I heard the Chosen Few Jazzmen the first time and would rave again
now, except I can't think of any more superlatives to add!
Buy, listen, enjoy.
- Geoff Boxell
Jazz Classique - France
Here is a very interesting CD for fans of New Orleans contemporary traditional
jazz (indeed, for all jazz fans). Two sessions comprise it under the leadership
of Tuba Fats: a brass band session from 1985 and four titles by The Chosen
Few Jazzmen in 2002. The 1985 band was a pillar of the renaissance brass
band style. It consisted of members of the great bands of the time: the
Olympia, the Hurricane and others the equal of the Dirty Dozen. These
9 tracks perfectly illustrate this period and the tastes of the leader:
the traditional (In the Sweet Bye & Bye), the Carnival (Mardi Grass
In New Orleans), the indian (Mardi Gras Iko), the rhythm & blues (Food
Stamps, Red Dress), the blues (Big Leg Woman, alias Blue Monk, with original
words). All that supported by the implacable beat of Bennie Jones, the
leader of the Treme Brass Band. The musician that grabs my attention the
most though is Elliot Callier both on saxophone and vocal. Trombonist
Eddie Parish shines with dynamism and originality - on the last four pieces
you can feel the influence of Waldren "Frog" Joseph. Kermit
Ruffins appears here in his premiere recording. Can you just imagine walking
in the streets of New Orleans with the black men and women - the "second
liners" - clapping your hands while this band plays?
The four pieces recorded in 2002 are perfectly representative of a contemporary/traditional
New Orleans jazz band. They are all good. But Gerald French on the drums
is exceptional! For his playing alone, the disc is worth the price of
- Jean-Marie Hurel
Kings Jazz Review - England
If I'm to get to grips with the Street Music album of Tuba Fats, I need
to go back to 1781 Yorktown, 1783 the end of the American War of Independence,
to likes of the Payen's Mexican Military band during the 1880s and early
1900s, with the discarded musical instruments of the Eighth Cavalry Mexican
band that played the World Industrial and Cotton Centennial in 1884 in
the Crescent City, to the period of the bars and barrelhouses of New Orleans,
right up to the reign of bandmaster John Philip Sousa, and for the in
between years, for good measure I'll take in the colliery brass bands
when they played the mining towns of England.
The bands of the street, inclusive of the jazz kind are numerous, but
judging from this Street Music album, this Tuba Fats one is unique among
them. Wherever there is a tune number there is a song, the melody lines
are distinct, clear and true. The Tuba Fats sousaphone sounds wonderfully
at ease throughout every track on the album. There is absolutely no fault
with the sound quality, and with a virtuoso trumpet player on board, the
album should appeal in the main to the many lovers of military band music.
The Sweet Bye & Bye is a funeral march. Tenor man Callier sings on
Big Leg Woman in a Jimmy Witherspoon style, which differs from his mellow
contribution on Thunderstorm. The one-minute of Those Were The Days sounds
to me like "Your Feet's Too Big". Milton Batiste whistles on
Mardi Gras In New Orleans in a style, which a former famous string bass
player used to feature.
There is a lot going on before coming to the four tracks of the "Tuba's
Chosen Few Jazzmen" session where Bye & Bye, in particular, became
popular with British "Trad" bands of the sixties.
An interesting element of note, is for one to study the different approaches
taken, and, of the rhythm sections styles between the two sessions, both
led by this very fine, sousaphone player, musician - Tuba Fats.
- Ian King
Jazz Journal International - British
While such groups as the Dirty Dozen have taken the New Orleans brass
band style in their own direction and more or less away from the streets.
Tuba Fats's approach has been much more traditional and suitable for marching.
The main session was by his street band of 1985, issued on an obscure
LP and acquired by Bill Bissonnette for use on CD. While the music incorporates
the rhythms and attack of jhythm-and-blues, it has the authentic sound
and atmosphere and, most importantly, the forward momentum of its forerunners.
The musicians cannot resist a little rabble-rousing on the Mardi Gras
items and The Saints, but the other tunes are played with restraint and
relaxation and a good deal of affection. Milton Batiste, who helped the
band to put the sessions together, makes a colourful intervention as whistler
as well as adding to the weight of trumpet sound on one track. He must
have been pleased to have a hand in furthering a tradition which he did
so much to foster in Harold Dejan's Olympia Brass Band. The last four
tracks are from the date which Bissonnette organised to fill out the CD
using several musicians from the earlier outing; an enjoyable session
which, in the event, resulted in enough material for a whole CD on its
own-reviewed in the January 2003 issue.
- Christopher Hillman
Just Jazz - British Jazz Magazine
These recording are like it should be - a noisy brass band playing that
joyful sound. There are so many musicians and titles on these two CDs,
[JCCD-3080 & JCCD-3078] there just is not the space to deal individually
with them all, but the sleeve notes by Marcel Joly and Bill Bissonnette
read like a 'Who's Who' of New Orleans musicians. Many are younger relatives
of the old timers that some of us grew up with. Benny Jones, son of Chester;
Gerald French, son of George French and grandson of'Papa' - who said that
the Hew Orleans tradition is dead? Listen to Kenneth Milton Terry's trumpet
solo on Lily Of The Va/iey - beautiful, and the glorious trombone lead-in
on Those Were The Days - it makes you feel as if you are there. Red Dress
shows good snare work and some Fats Domino-type riffs. Thunderstorm is
a home town urban blues with a vocal from Elliot Callier. A name that
has been mentioned to me a lot over the last year or so is that of Darryl
Adams, and Marcel Joly praises him highly. He is about 44 years old, plays
in the style of Capt. John Handy, and yet I had never heard of him. Watch
out for him in the future. In fact, most of the guys on these two CDs
are young (well, nearly everyone is young when you are 63, but I think
you'll know what I mean). There is also a small cameo of the late Milton
Batiste. The sleeve notes say, 'As long as records like this can be made
in New Orleans there is hope the tradition will continue.. .brass bands
are the link between the music and the black community., .most black people
don't come to Preservation Hall, but when a brass band marches.. .they
all rush out to join the second line.'
This is an example of some of the music you can hear in New Orleans today.
- Derek J. Winters
Cadence Magazine - U. S. A.
Raw and raucous, the Tuba Fats Chosen Few swings its collective butt
off (check put the rocking shout choruses on the "Mardi Gras Iko/Food
Stamps" medley). A particular pleasure is listening to the sax section:
Adams and Callier keep the R&B quotient high, and the presence of
trumpeter Ruffins on the 1985 material is an added plus. "Funky Chops"
Harris is a fun trombonist, expelling lusty blats on the funereal "In
The Sweet Bye & Bye," and excavating some real dirt on the later,
uptempo reading of the same tune. By the 2000 session that comprises the
disc's last half hour, the lineup has acquired piano, banjo, and a full
drumset. The recording benefits from the Audiophile Studio's polish, creating
a nice soundstage, with a delicious punch to drummer French's every kick.
Fats' dextrous, subtle tuba is heard clearly in the mix, while pianist
Kaiser is perfect, playing a modicum of notes with a maximum of finesse.
- Larry Nei
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