ALBUM REVIEW: Japan Times (Tokyo)

At the tender age of 13, Kirk Joseph was already on the march. When his older brothers’ marching band was short a tuba player, Joseph filled in, knowing the tunes from hearing his father, brothers and New Orleans neighbors play them.

That was 30 years ago, but since then, he has helped define the good-time sound of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, of which he has long been, instrumentally at least, the biggest and deepest member. His first release as a bandleader, “Sousafunk Ave.,” extends the pumping, funky DDBB sound and turns the sousaphone up in the mix for a new blend of N.O. music he calls “sousafunk.”

Joseph gets the air moving through the massive sousaphone chamber as nimbly as any string bass player. The core band is rather compact, with sax, trumpet, guitar and drums alongside his sousaphone, but he also brings in some musical ringers. Each tune features a friend: Dr. John (with super-cool vocals on “Laid Back”), jazz heavy Donald Harrison (who blasts open several jams on sax), Neville Brothers’ drummer Willie Green (who tightens up the percussion) and the Bonerama Bones (a N.O. trombone ensemble whose CDs fit right beside Josephs’ on the funky shelf).

– Michael Pronko,