Irreverent and risqué, Ecirb Müller’s Twisted Dixie twirls traditional jazz on its venerated head. Led by singer, trumpeter and educator Dr. Brice Miller, Twisted Dixie bills itself as America’s funkiest traditional jazz band. It’s also the funniest jazz band in the land, unless you’re easily—and maybe not so easily—offended. Miller’s spoken-word intros to the band’s often ska- and reggae-inflected versions of jazz standards qualify him as a scathing satirist.
What Had Happened Was…, Twisted Dixie’s debut album, is a 21-track history of Ecirb Müller, the world’s oldest living jazz trumpeter. In this crazy concept album, Miller also claims that Müller is the nation’s greatest unsung inventor (electric streetcars, the airplane, automobile and cell phones). And Müller was the first man on the moon; reason enough for Twisted Dixie to give “Fly Me to the Moon” a wacky ska-groove. Following the example of The Skatalites, Jamaica’s quintessential ska band, Twisted Dixie gives “Moon” an extended instrumental intro ahead of Brice’s vocals. “Beyond Jamaica,” his take on a Frank Sinatra standard, straddles disco and a demented a circus band. “My Blue Heaven” gets a ska-meets-cabaret arrangement and “Bye Bye Blackbird” becomes the reggae-filtered “My My Blackbird.”
Jokesters though Miller and the Twisters are, they nonetheless have the musical skills necessary to kept their crazy train rolling.