The Shotgun Jazz Band has come a long way, growing from a duo of Marla and John Dixon to an 8-piece ensemble for their fiery new release entitled, Steppin’ On the Gas. Featuring Marla Dixon (trumpet and vocals), James Evans (C-melody sax, clarinet, and vocals), Charlie Halloran (trombone), David Boeddinghaus (piano), Tyler ‘Twerk’ Thomson (upright bass), John Dixon (banjo) and guests Ben Polcer (trumpet) and Tom Fischer (alto saxophone and clarinet) come together on this 18-track album. Steppin’ On the Gas is bursting with energy from start to finish, featuring enthusiastic and creative melodies supplemented by a “stomping rhythm section.”
Shotgun Jazz Band, known for their “gutsy and gritty” playing style, are commanders of this music and play them exceptionally, holding true to the context in which these songs matured. Shotgun Jazz Band are dynamics experts; the band is careful and calculated beginning each song, only to gradually ramp up the energy and “step on the gas” to deliver punching, energetic recordings that translate well in the studio and shine in a live setting.
The band’s love for this music is evident through the enthusiasm in which the horn section comes together to lay down the melody for the clarinet to soar around. Marla Dixon is her own force to be reckoned with, whether she’s belting out her lament in ‘I Hate A Man Like You,’ or sweetly consoling the lonesome listener in ‘Whenever You’re Lonesome.’ Other highlights include some sing-a-long classics where even the traditional jazz layperson feels empowered to dance and sing along with Dixon on ‘Moonlight Bay’ and ‘Down By the Riverside,’ leaving the listener satisfied.
While these compositions are gems in their own right, Shotgun Jazz Band takes these songs and is able to create something that is authentically New Orleans while continuing honor these timeless songs. Shotgun Jazz Band continues to be the premier examples of old-style New Orleans jazz, and Steppin’ On the Gas certainly supports that fact.
You can catch Shotgun Jazz Band live on Wednesdays at the Spotted Cat Music Club, Fridays at Maison, and Saturdays at Three Muses.