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
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.