The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3080: Tuba Fats Chosen Few - "Street Music"

Personnel: 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]

Songs: Oh! 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

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3080: 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.
- R. Lee


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 ownership.
- 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 Magazine

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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