The "buzz" in Buzztopia, a tour featuring a solid trio of bands that wander the gray area between genres, begins with the Dirty Dozen, one of the premier brass bands in New Orleans for two decades. Though many diehards preferred the Dozen's sound before they added a keyboard player a few years back, the Dozen still churns out a blend of second-line funk, spiced with righteous bop, that's totally unique; the powerhouse sound of Roger Lewis on baritone sax is worth the price of admission alone. More New Orleans roots lie behind the sound of the second band on the bill, the Jazz Mandolin Project, whose sound transcends categorization and features mandolin player Jamie Masefield, who came to the instrument from playing jazz banjo rather than bluegrass licks. Aided by drummer Ari Hoenig and bass player Chris Dahlgren, Masefield leads the group into a slice-and-dice blend of jazz, folk and rock that's best appreciated live.
But the most interesting group of the three is Rob Wasserman's Space Island. Deadheads are hip to the bassist through his work with Bob Weir, but the eclectic Wasserman has worked with everyone from Lou Reed and Aaron Neville to Willie Dixon and Elvis Costello on his acclaimed Duets and Trios recordings. With his new Space Island band, Wasserman pushes his distinctive bass sound into some very interesting directions.