One of the big questions about the group called All That is, who is in it? Another question is, what kind of music do they play? The answer to both of those inquiries is, well, it depends upon what day it is, who's available, and what they feel like playing.
The neo-brass band tradition in New Orleans began in the early 80's with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, under the tutelage of the late, great Danny Barker, and his Fairview Baptist Church School for Brass Bands. Since that time, many permutations of the brass band tradition have been formed, from the Reirth Brass Band to the Treme Brass Band to theSoul Rebels. Certainly, one of the more unique brass bands to come up is All That.
The group's founder is a deejay on the legendary radio station, WWOZ, the broadcasting arm of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. "D.J. Davis" Rogan programs a brass band show on the station. He decided to form his own group to further develop his keen interest in the genre. The keyboardist gathered together some of his favorite musicians and they put out a CD, entitled Eponymous Debutin 1997.
The humorous tone of that title is indicative of the band's world view. Life is not to be taken too seriously. If you can't gig, someone else will. The Mardi Gras Indian song, Do Whatcha Want could be the band's theme song. Musical artists came and went at will. They included excellent musicians such as Matt Perrine, Derek Freeman, Kirk Joseph, "Mean" Willie Green, as well as an amorphous group of others dropping in from bands like the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars and Iris May Tango.
The band combined brass band second line music with elements of hip hop, rap, funk, to create a polyphonic sound all their own. Played what they felt like. It caught on. They had fun. They offended some people with their lyrics. They didn't care. Their looseness appealed to many listeners. Their fan base grew, and they went on tour, which coincided with the 1997 release of their second CD, Whop Boom Bam.
It's a hot CD, good music, with some pretty funny songs, spoofing things. Los Hombres de F.I. A. S. Co.; Funk With Me; and Collegiate Dope Slingaz left some amused. Some people just left. Somewhere in here, the story gets confusing, because the band split into two groups, All That and Cronk. There were lawyers involved. Seeking a little less chaos, Derek Freeman and friends started a band called Cronk, who like to tour. All That is still out there too. They tend to play New Orleans gigs, with whatever musicians are available, play whatever they feel like. You can do that in a city like New Orleans, filled with great musicians. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer