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Extra Crispy Brass Band: Extra Crispy Brass Band

Feb. 3, 2015
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Courtesy of the Extra Crispy Brass Band
Be it the post-Katrina musical diaspora, or the timeless fact it remains the best of all strains of feel-good party music, of late there’s been a massive proliferation of New Orleans-style brass bands. Minneapolis, Madison, Columbus, Indy and Detroit are just some of our Midwestern neighbors upholding the funkified, roaring, rolling tradition. Milwaukee was a bit late to the party, but to arrive, it took frustration over said vacancy as well as bandleader and former ’Nola resident Gregory Cramer to learn trombone and recruit like-minded musicians to achieve his Rebirth Brass Band dreams.

Three years later, Extra Crispy holds the pioneering local claim on the okra-inflected genre. Their album offers practiced eight-part bombast that aptly straddles pop and tradition, street and school, Saturday night and, well, just Saturday night. There are unique takes on “I Got A Woman” and the ultimate in-love perk strut of “Just the Two of Us,” inevitable party standards (“Do Watcha Wanna”), peppy trad jazz (“St. Louis Blues”), Latin clave spice (Dave Bartholomew’s savory “Shrimp and Gumbo”), and two originals that feel of a piece and like they’ve always been around. Properly, the boys put no emphasis on singing, letting it almost all ride on snare-bass drum groove, bouncy sousaphone toot-toot, snaked solos, collective improvisation and unapologetic aural insolence.

Though lovingly packaged and professionally waxed, a CD presentation somehow seems a bit anathema to their entirely of-the-street institution. Theirs is the kind of thing best experienced while swaying loose and easy, ducking incoming trombone slides and always with drink in hand. Though a bit more subdued and jazz club-polite, the Jazz Estate now hosts Extra Crispy’s new monthly residency (9 p.m., third Thursdays monthly), keeping the East Side supplied with brassy, blustery “Nawlins” swagger. It’ll have to do till the return of reasonable weather, and the high season of our burgeoning good-times king of the festival circuit.

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