Reviews

But For NowBob Dorough - But For Now

One of the coolest singers you'll ever hope to hear – and an artist who's still incredibly wonderful, always fresh, and completely charming – even after decades of recording! Bob Dorough works here in a trio with his own piano, the bass of Tony Marino, and alto of Michael Hornstein – the last of which gets in a few solos between Bob's own tremendous vocal passages – those warm, witty ways of delivering a tune like nobody else – no matter if the words are Dorough's own, or a compelling re-phrasing of a standard! We'd easily rank this one up there with some of Bob's best – especially amidst his live recordings – and titles include "Baltimore Oriole", "The Girl From Ipanema", "But For Now", "The Shadow Of Your Summer", "Better Than Anything", and "Take Five".  

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CD Review: Bob DoroughEulalia

 

Bob Dorough Eulalia
(Merry Lane Records ML-0090. CD review by Andrew Cartmel)

Any new CD from Bob Dorough is a delight, and it’s a real privilege to still have him making records for us in his 91st year. In case his name isn’t familiar, Dorough is noted for collaborations with Blossom Dearie, Miles Davis (he’s one of the very few singers ever to work with Miles) and, yes, honestly, Sesame Street. His first album,Devil May Care, appeared almost 60 years ago, but the years have had remarkably little effect on this idiosyncratic jewel of an artist. On the cover of his 1956 début LP he stared out at us, an angry young man. Now he looks like an affable old gent. But the voice is virtually unchanged — perhaps a little mellower, but still insouciant, raspy, confiding… amusing and amused. His piano playing is, if anything, more fluent, agreeable and adroit. And his writing and knack for sardonic observation are as sharp as ever.

Love (Webster’s Dictionary), written with guest lyricists Dan Greenburg and Monty Ghertler, is a stand-out track. It is a witty deconstruction of every love song you’ve ever heard — consisting largely of verbatim definitions of the word ‘love’ as lifted from the ubiquitous American dictionary. (“Antonym: ‘hate’.”) It is set to Dorough’s deceptively simple-sounding tune, a cunning Latin construction which calls to mind a modern version of Jelly Roll Morton’s miniature masterpieces. Dorough’s nimble piano here is an ever-flowing source of rhythm and variation, inserting bright commentary while unfurling the bass foundations of the piece with the left hand. Ray Wilson plays superb, carefully calculated guitar to illuminate things.

In fact the supporting musicians are unmatched throughout. But For Now, with lyrics and music by Dorough is notable both for his own piano playing and Thomas Hultén’s growling, heartfelt trombone. A Few Days of Glory with lyrics by Fran Landesman is given a shimmering gospel treatment with Gary Mitchell Jr.conjuring yearning on Hammond organ and Warren Sneed on soprano sax giving an old time New Orleans feeling which melts into an almost abstract modernism with a lovely lyrical alto solo. This alto sax was so beautiful that I was grabbing for the CD booklet to find out who played it. Ah yes, some fellow called Phil Woods... (You begin to get an idea of the standard of musicianship on this album.) 

Woods is also outstandingly gorgeous on To Be or Not to Bop, words and music by Dorough. The melding of droll, articulate lyrics and bebop here are a reminder that this is the man who ingeniously set words to Yardbird Suite over half a century ago. The tune is also a showcase for Dennis Dotson on trumpet and Steve Gilmore’s thoughtful acoustic bass.

Eulalia Reprise is a feature for a wonderful flutist, who turns out to be Aralee Dorough (first chair flute in the Houston Symphony Orchestra, no less). The virtuosic interplay between father and daughter here is a delicate marvel, assisted by the gentle, near-subliminal drumming of Herman Matthews.

The other top notch contributors to this fabulous little album are Keith Vivens on electric bass, Mike Mizma on vibes and pandeiro (a kind of Brazilian tambourine) and Tammie Bradley on vocals.

Whether you’re looking for the trademark ironic humour of his songs or simply some world-class instrumental jazz, Eulalia merits your attention.

 

Bob Dorough: Eulalia (2014)

By  Published: February 3, 2014

Bob Dorough: EulaliaCherry Hill Township is located in Perry County about 50 miles west of Little Rock. Cherry Hill is also the birthplace of singer Bob Dorough, born December 12, 1923. Dorough left Arkansas soon after, his family moving to Texas, where he would begin his musical education that, 70 years later would bring him toEulalia, his follow-up to last year's Duets (Self Produced). While Dorough's music smacks of East Coast sophistication, his voice retains the rural grace of his home state. Dorough's voice is like that of the Broadway lyricist singing his or her own song: it is not beautiful or even pretty. It is honest and authentic and humble. 

Recorded in 2011, Eulalia is a collection of new Dorough compositions that are as timeless as the singer himself. "Love (Webster's Dictionary)" recalls Dorough's major part in 30 years of Schoolhouse rock!. His piano playing, while uniquely his, seems as informed by Horace Silver as it is by Red Garland. There is a showtune quality to Dorough compositions, and this quality is well on display here. All of the tunes have a familiar sound but are beyond the simple pale of "I Got Rhythm." "Whatever happened to Love Longs" is a ballad that features sophisticated Dorough chord progression and his broadest singing range. That voice again. Dan Bilawsky called Dorough's voice one ..." that's really an acquired taste, but it's a taste worth acquiring." It does grow on you and it is as genuine as the Fourth of July. 

"But For Now" with its descending harmonic figure and moderate tempo recalls Dorough's first great composition, "Devil May Care." This is music of unusual quality. "To Be of Not To Bop" is based on a complex head and recalls the singer's famous treatment of Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite." Houston's ownDennis Dotson provides a tart trumpet interlude accented with Dorough's well-considered piano support. The disc is bookended by two performances of Dorough's original instrumental "Eulalia," featuring the singer's daughter on flute in a timeless Latin pastoral, delicate yet durable. Dorough is rare avis among jazz musicians, sharing space with only Dave Frishberg and Mose Allison. Who is stepping up to eventually fill these larges shoes? Can they be filled? Should they?


Track Listing: Eulalia; Love (Webster's Dictionary); Whatever Happened To Love Songs; But For Now; To Be Or Not To Bop; I've Got Just About Everything; A Few Days Of Glory; Consummation; Eulalia Reprise.

Personnel: Bob Dorough: piano, vocals, arrangements; Steve Gilmore: acoustic bass; Herman Matthews: drums; Phil Woods: alto saxophone; Aralee Dorough: flute; Dennis Dotson: trumpet; Thomas Hulten: trombone, tuba; Warren Sneed: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Keith Vivens: electric bass (3, 7); Ray Wilson: guitar; Mike Mizma: vibraphone, pandeiro (2); Gary Mitchell, Jr.: choirmaster, vocals, Hammond B3 (7); Tammie Bradley: vocals (7).

Record Label: Self Produced

Bob Dorough: Eulalia (2014)

By  Published: January 22, 2014

Bob Dorough: EulaliaHipness springs eternal from the mind, mouth and hands of Bob Dorough. The cool-as-can be Schoolhouse Rock! songsmith who's worked with everybody from trumpeter Miles Davis to precocious singer-songwriter Nellie McKay may have turned ninety in December of 2013, but age hasn't slowed him down too much; his wit is still razor-sharp and he still has a way of charming and disarming with his work. 

This collection of music, recorded a couple years before the aforementioned milestone birthday, is full of smile-inducing gems. Dorough delivers a Brazilian-tinged, definition-driven delicacy ("Love (Webster's Dictionary")), a bop paean ("To Be Or Not To Bop") a bluesy ballad ("But For Now"), an upbeat-and-snazzy showcase for soloists ("I've Got Just About Everything") and a whole lot more. He mixes NOLA brass band swagger and straight up swing into the stirring gospel framework of "A Few Days Of Glory," and puts his daughter, Houston Symphony flautist Aralee Dorough, in the spotlight on the title track(s)—an original and reprise which bookend the album—and the brief-and-impressionistic "Consummation." 

The songwriter and his songs are the stars here, but Eulalia isn't a one man show. Saxophone legendPhil Woods gets his two cents in on "I've Got Just About Everything," trombonist Thomas Hulten has his moments on "But For Now," and guest vocalists Tammie Bradley and Gary Mitchell, Jr. bring the churchy cheer into "A Few Days Of Glory." Several other band members get their time in the sun at various points throughout the album, but it's hard not to keep coming back to the man of the hour. 

Dorough, like fellow traveler Dave Frishberg and less-jazzy counterpart Randy Newman, has a voice that's really an acquired taste, but it's a taste worth acquiring. This man has elevated the art of the singer-songwriter in so many ways and it's wonderful to hear him still going strong after all these years.


Track Listing: Eulalia; Love (Webster's Dictionary); Whatever Happened To Love Songs; But For Now; To Be Or Not To Bop; I've Got Just About Everything; A Few Days Of Glory; Consummation; Eulalia Reprise.

Personnel: Bob Dorough: piano, vocals, arrangements; Steve Gilmore: acoustic bass; Herman Matthews: drums; Phil Woods: alto saxophone; Aralee Dorough: flute; Dennis Dotson: trumpet; Thomas Hulten: trombone, tuba; Warren Sneed: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Keith Vivens: electric bass (3, 7); Ray Wilson: guitar; Mike Mizma: vibraphone, pandeiro (2); Gary Mitchell, Jr.: choirmaster, vocals, Hammond B3 (7); Tammie Bradley: vocals (7).

Record Label: Self Produced

Bob Dorough - Eulalia

Eulalia

Bob Dorough

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Yew gotta be kiddin' me, Bertram! Bob Dorough is 90 and still putting out this great music??? I'm 30 years behind him and will be lucky to be half as good tomorrow as I am today. What the heck is he eating that has him this spunky? I want some. No, I want lots. In case you hadn't known it, ivory tickler Dorough has an impressive history: he played between sets for Lenny Bruce, the best comic this bedraggled planet's ever seen; recorded with Blossom Dearie and Miles Davis and thus was one of the few human beings to ever sing on a Miles slab; and, among many other adventures, was a main music figure on the Schoolhouse Rock! TV show, still much talked about to this day.

But there's much more. In between all those landmarks, he's led his own bands and put out LPs and CDs chockfull of cool jazz and bop as one of those Frishberg / Sidran / Allison singers who writes and encants with tongue firmly planted in cheek and cheeky smile just as firmly glued on grinning face. He here recruited such top shelf cats as Phil Woods, Warren Sneed, Steve Gilmore (playing killer playful lines all through the CD), a bunch of talented others, and even his daughter Aralee, first-chair flute with the Houston Symphony. She steps in with a drop-dead beautiful solo on the title cut and later a Prokofievian Consummationbefore sliding into Eulalia Reprise.

The cleverly titled To Be or Not to Bop is a romp with Dennis Dotson trailing the lyrics on trumpet, leading into a cool-plus Woods solo. Whatever Happened to Love Songs borrows satirical poetry from writer Dan Greenburg (whom you may recall from his humorous Playboy articles and 72 books) and comes off a bit like a Randy Newman song. It also carries one of those aforementioned great hoppin' boppin' bass lines from Gilmore, delicious and smile-invoking. All through the CD, Dorough's piano and voice are simultaneously light and direct, but…90, dammit!, and he's doing this? I won't be able able to plunk out chopsticks when I get there…and…and…hmmmm, come to think of it, I can't plunk out chopsticks even now! Maybe I just need to listen even more closely. Pour a beer, pull up a chair, and join me.

CD: Bob Dorough

Bob DoroughEulalia (Merry Lane Records)

Dorough EulaliaIn addition to endearing vocal performances of several of his best songs, Dorough gives listeners what may come as a surprise to many; his ingenuity as an arranger. The deceptive simplicity of “Eulalia,” the album’s sole instrumental, is one of several instances of his melody lines and the tang of his voicings giving energy and richness to a mid-sized ensemble. Dorough plays piano. Other soloists include alto saxophonist Phil Woods, bassist Steve Gilmore and Dorough’s daughter Aralee, a symphony flutist. Woods is on fire in Dorough’s gospel anthem “A Few Days of Glory” and in the classic “I’ve Got Just About Everything.” When Dorough recorded Eulalia, he was 88. His musicianship and wit were ageless.

CD Review: Bob Dorough - Eulalia.

 
Bob Dorough (vcl, pno, arr); Steve Gilmore (bs); Herman Matthews (dms); Phil Woods (alt); Aralie Dorough (fl); Dennis Dotson (tpt); Thomas Hultén (tmb, tuba); Ray Wilson (gtr);Warren Sneed (ten, sop) + Keith Vivens (el. bs.);  Mike Mizma (vbs, pandeiro); Gary Mitchell Jr. (vcls, choirmaster, B3); Tammie Bradley (vcls).
(Review by Lance)
A cornucopia of delights in this slightly whimsical disc. Where to start? Dorough isn't a great singer but he puts over the quirky lyrics with the tongue in cheek approach of someone like Dave Frishberg and, like Frishberg, he can laydown some mean piano as well as writing poetically, composing a melodic tune and arranging the same imaginatively. His daughter, Aralie, also plays mighty fine flute (her dad was born in Arkansas and discovered music in Texas).
To Be or Not to Bop (get some Charlie Parker in your soul) has a clever lyric and a few bop choruses from Sneed on tenor and Dotson on trumpet with Bob and Gilmore keeping well within the period.
Dotson shows again on I've Got Just About Everything which could be descriptive of Phil Woods who leaps in like a Lord on the tenth day of Christmas.
The spiritual inspired A Few Days of Glory has a churchy choir, some Hammond B3, a Dixie ensemble and more Phil Woods - described in the notes as the ne plus ultra of alto sax -  vous et moi aussi mon ami!
Just a few of the memorable moments - there are many more.

Bob Dorough: Eulalia

Bob Dorough

Bob Dorough - EulaliaThe 90-year-old Bob Dorough and “Little” Jimmy Scott are among the last of the classic jazz vocalists: singers who phrase with genius, and express the lyric as nobody can; who plunge into character from the first notes; their voice a magical instrument that—in the case of Mr. Scott—a flute, or a soprano saxophone; even a piano played in the upper register for he is pitch perfect. In the case of Bob Dorough his voice is a as husky and brazen as a horn—a trumpet, or trombone; an oboe, a saxophone or a tubaeven a whole string section with its undulating and glissandos that rise and fall with ingenuity; and the sudden arpeggios that spell utter magic; all of this despite the fact that Mr. Dorough’s vocalastics and vocalese are generous to a fault; him being cut from the warp and the weft of a musical fabric that flows diaphanously right out of his proverbial horn of plenty. But when Mr. Dorough starts to sing a magical transubstantiation takes place. It is then that Bob Dorough becomes a proverbial condor; which means that while his fodder is music—earthbound music—he derives and provides the most glorious pleasure from soaring high above and mere mortals can only stand agape at the immensity of his world.

At his advanced age, the mastery of music sometimes slows down, but not for Bob Dorough. His vocals have become a tad more grizzled and this has made his voice a lot more attractive. Moreover he is endlessly inventive. Who else could turn a reading from a Webster’s Dictionary into a mesmerising lyric as Mr. Dorough does in “Love (Webster’s Dictionary),” as he spins out a stylish love song. His weaving lyric into melody almost ends in “antonym: hate” as he all but finishing his sublime narration in a Shakespearean manner with a stab of an imaginary knife. He follows this up with a cynical song about “Whatever Happened to Love Songs” in his own inimitable wail as he bemoans the twisted state of love. In this and in “But For Now” he reveals some of the finest phrasing since Louis Armstrong. His expressive nature and his palpitating heart is also revealed here. In those and all the rest of the repertoire Bob Dorough reveals his heartfelt, sentimentality and the fact that there is no one comparable to the vocalist—at least no one who can sing with his expressive cynicism and also his warm and moist sentiment—not even singers half his age.

But Bob Dorough is one of those singers who belong to no age, yet all ages. He might have sung Broadway, with Sidney Bechet or Charlie Parker, the swing age and Benny Goodman; even Miles Davis, with whom he actually did and almost anyone in between. He is that timeless. Happily the album is made up of some fine performances by his daughter the flutist Aralee, Denis Dotson’s marvelous trumpet work, Phil Woods on alto saxophone as well as Thomas Hultén on trombone and tuba, and Warren Sneed on tenor and soprano saxophones. These magnificent performances inform the ensemble that backs up the ineffable Mr. Bob Dorough, one of the icons of modern music whose album Eulalia is truly unforgettable.

Track List: Eulalia; Love (Webster’s Dictionary); Whatever Happened to Love Songs; But for Now; I’ve Got Just About Everything; A Few Days of Glory; Consummation; Eulalia Reprise.

Personnel: Bob Dorough: piano, vocals, arrangements; Steve Gilmore: acoustic bass; Herman Matthews: drums; Phil Woods: alto saxophone; Aralee Dorough: Flute: Dennis Dotson: trumpet; Thomas Hultén: trombone, tuba; Warren Sneed: tenor and soprano saxophones; Keith Vivens: electric bass (3, 7); Ray Wilson: guitar; Mike Mizma: vibes, pandeiro (2); Gary Mitchell Jr.: vocals and Hammond B3 (7); Timmie Bradley: vocals (7).

Label: Merry Lane Records | Release date: February 2014

Bob Dorough – Eulalia – Merry Lane Records

Far from your usual jazz vocalist, Dorough is an acquired but extremely worthwhile taste.
  

Published on February 25, 2014

Bob Dorough – Eulalia [TrackList follows] – Merry Lane Records

Bob Dorough – Eulalia [TrackList follows] – Merry Lane Records (self), 46:42 [1/28/14]*****:

(Bob Dorough – vocals/piano/arrangements; plus an octet incl. Phil Woods – alto sax, Steve Gilmore – double bass,  and Aralee Dorough – flute, plus four guest artists)

Bob Dorough has been my favorite male jazz vocalist for a very long time—since he visited me on my houseboat in the late ‘70s. His is not a great voice, and may be an acquired taste, but what he does with it is amazing. He’s a risk-taker in every way, doing scat, vocalese and going into high registers with no fear. His voice is instantly loveable, filled with some of the rural touch of his home state Arkansas, as well as bebop sophistication. He’s also a great jazz pianist and composer and has performed with the late Blossom Dearie as well as Dave Frishberg. (The terrific album he did with Frishberg is Who’s on First? and was on BlueNote but is now unfortunately discontinued.) Dorough has not been a big name in jazz for most of his career, and he’s 90 now but still going very strong. (Just heard him live at the Portland Jazz Festival, with Frishberg.) Many younger listeners know him only from the Schoolhouse Rock PBS-TV programs. He was the only jazz vocalist to do a couple tracks on a Miles Davis album.

Dorough’s new album is full of smile-creating wonders and proudly puts his daughter Aralee on flute on the opening and closing tracks which he composed for her.  She’s first flutist in the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and is also heard on the track “Consummation.” There are also a couple of his hits, “Love (Webster’s Dictionary),” and “I’ve Got Just About Everything,” on which sax legend Phil Woods gets a great solo. A Brazilian feeling creeps into his unusual rendition of the five definitions of love direct from the dictionary. “A Few Days of Glory” has some swinging gospel influence, and he wrote his “To Be Or Not To Bop” inspired by Dizzy Gillespie. Dorough, like Frishberg, Mose Allison, Jim Pearce and Randy Newman, has a voice that might take some getting used to, but he takes the area of singer-songwriter into totally new places that are a complete delight. Try him out!

—John Sunier

 

 
Cd_bob-dorough_span3
05/09/14

Bob Dorough
Eulalia
Merry Lane

 

There are great jazz singers—Ella, Sarah, Billie, Mel—and then there are deceptively great jazz singers whose rare qualities require a more discerning ear: Fred Astaire, Chet Baker, Mose Allison, Dave Frishberg and, with his hypnotic cat-scratch twang, Bob Dorough. Like his great friend Frishberg, Dorough, now 90, is also a first-tier pianist and songwriter, as well as a gifted arranger. His myriad skills are on glorious display across these nine tracks, recorded in 2011 with a midsize ensemble that includes saxophonist Phil Woods and Dorough’s daughter Aralee, principal flutist with the Houston Symphony.

Dorough opens and closes with the instrumental title track, which dates to his career’s earliest days, written for and recorded with Sam Most 61 years ago. In between he revisits two of his best-known songs—“But for Now” and “I’ve Got Just About Everything”—plus his stealthy “Love (Webster’s Dictionary)” (its title oddly altered from the original “Love [Webster’s Definition]”), the drolly off-key “Whatever Happened to Love Songs?” and the eight-minute “To Be or Not to Bop,” a scat-flecked paean to the jazz life. But it is the least-familiar Dorough composition, the slyly twisted gospel-meets-Basin-Street anthem “A Few Days of Glory,” written with Fran Landesman, that shines brightest, as two octogenarian masters, Dorough and Woods, gleefully strut their stuff.

Devil May Care, the 1956 debut album from Bob Dorough, ebulliently announced the arrival of a different kind of jazz singer -- one who was not only hip to bebop, but other liberating musical ideas of the day. Like his friend Blossom Dearie, Dorough was unapologetic about his voice's dissimilarity from jazz singers of previous eras, and set about to radically recast his role. Dorough accompanies himself on piano, backed by trumpeter Warren Fitzgerald, vibist Jack Hitchcock, drummer Jerry Segal and longtime bassist/friend Bill Takas.

The album opens on "Old Devil Moon," with Dorough swinging the classic Harburg-Lane number with the soft-spoken tones of a hip elf -- and in an impressionistic arrangement of "Polka Dots And Moonbeams," his hushed delivery brings his voice going so low it nearly scrapes the chassis. He turns Hoagy Carmichael's "Baltimore Oriole" into an anthropomorphic hipster's fable, and he remakes Rodgers and Hart number "Johnny One Note" at full tilt, with Hitchcock's vibes ringing in the background like a racetrack bell.

Dorough's bop heritage is explored on Dizzy Gillespie's "Ow," sung entirely wordlessly, and followed by elaborate, yet low-key, scatting. And, as an early vocalese practitioner, Dorough adds his own lyrics to Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite," which he delivers with a quiet intensity as a loving homage to the legend who'd died only a year before. (This reissue features an alternate version of this track.)

Dorough's songcraft -- which would become more prominent as his career progressed -- is represented by the sharply-swinging "You're The Dangerous Type," and the lyrical, yet angular melody "Devil May Care." That title track would go on to become a classic, covered electrifyingly by Miles Davis in the early '60s and, more recently, by Diana Krall and Claire Martin.

This second reissue of Devil May Care was probably prompted by Dorough's latter-day success as a Blue Note artist, and serves to remind his new fans of the deep roots of his delightful songcraft. (reviewed for CDNow by Drew Wheeler)

Too Much Coffee, Man confirms singer, pianist, songwriter and arranger Bob Dorough's long-overdue ascension from cult artist to national treasure. His second Blue Note release offers him a broader musical canvas than his customary small group formats, including, on various tracks, trombones, tuba, guitar, a battery of percussion, a vocal trio and guest soloist Phil Woods' alto saxophone.

Dorough wrote the music and/or lyrics for nine of the dozen songs, including the tender, loping "Wake Up Sally, It's Saturday" (dedicated to his wife) and the unabashedly ardent "There's Never Been a Day," along with his carefree signature tune "I've Got Just About Everything" and "Love (Webster's Dictionary)," the best-known of his "pop art" compositions based on found texts.

Dorough supplements his own songs with the Cootie Williams jump tune "Fish for Supper" (dig the witty interpolated allusions to Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait,"), Dave Frishberg's mordant "Oklahoma Toad" and the opening track-the irresistible '40s samba "The Coffee Song."

This CD is 54 minutes of pure pleasure from the planet's youngest 76-year-old.

by Joel Siegel

Percolatin' Rhythm - by Drew Wheeler

The puckishly witty repertoire and eternally hip demeanor of jazz vocal veteran Bob Dorough has found fine expression on his second Blue Note set, Too Much Coffee Man. And as befits a man whose career is not without its eccentric flourishes, his album's four-word title is less a complaint and more an over-caffeinated superhero. (Pictured on the cover and elsewhere in the album booklet, TMCM is the protagonist in a comic book series by Shannon Wheeler.) Musically, what Dorough brews up is a delicious blend of original tunes and well-chosen covers, with instrumentation that ranges from self-accompanied piano to an eight-piece band.

Dorough kicks of the proceedings with a joyous delivery of the clever lyric of Frank Sinatra chestnut "The Coffee Song (They've Got A Lot Of Coffee In Brazil)," set to a tumbling, rhumba-ling rhythm, with wild, wired alto improvisations from Phil Woods. A back-country ease and poignancy suffuses "Oklahoma Toad," an anthropomorphic Dave Frishberg tune with a heartbreaking, emphatic hook.

Dorough revives two classic from his 1960s output: the delightfully beaming "I've Got Just About Everything," in an uptempo take with fleet-footed solos by Woods and guitarist Joe Cohn; and the rhapsodic "Love (Webster's Definition)," that sets the dictionary entry to a smooth, sambafied beat.

Among his more recently composed themes is "There's Never Been A Day," the wistfully lazy groove of which ambles onward as his vocals follow their own idiosyncratic, almost conversational meter. A romantically exotic, descending progression frames "Marilyn, Queen Of Lies," the tale of a wicked woman; and Dorough's solo piano accompaniment intensifies the regretful, bittersweet emotion of "Yesterday, I Made You Breakfast."

Title track "Too Much Coffee Man" is a funky narrative about the cartoon character, but is also dedicated to Dorough's java-loving longtime friend and bassist-accompanist Bill Takas, who died in 1998. And Dorough closes out the show gloriously with "Late In The Century," a starry-eyed waltz that reveals the idealist beneath the seen-it-all hipster, surrounded by a trio of lively backup singers. This final benediction may be shrugged of as the reverie of an unreconstructed jazz hippie, but the purity and sincerity of his sentiments can't be smirked away.

For those familiar with his uniquely swinging songcraft, or those just discovering it, Bob Dorough's Too Much Coffee Man is grounds for celebration.

by Drew Wheeler

Welcome to the world of Bob Dorough, the oldest living hipster in jazz at age 81 (December 14, 2004). The singer/composer/pianist has been recording since 1956 and (except for a brief flurry of attention with his compositions written for ABC-TV's Schoolhouse Rock from 1973-1985) he has remained largely unappreciated. When I first heard Dorough's vocal of Charlie Parker's “Yardbird Suite” on his debut Bethlehem album Devil May Care, it was a burst of energy and long-needed thank you to Bird for his musical contribution. When I first saw Dorough perform in late 1963, he opened for Miles Davis at the Village Vanguard in duet with bassist Bill Takas and seemed an anachronism more typical of the bohemian jazzman of the late 50s. However, over the decades Dorough has endured and thrived artistically. He has also become something of a cult figure in the Cabaret genre per his performances and his own compositions or those co-written with such esteemed musicians as Fran Landesman, Blossom Dearie and Dave Frishberg. I enjoyed his live album with Dave Frishberg, Who's On First (Blue Note, 2000), although Dorough's tunes and piano were not quite as witty and prolific as Frishberg's.

All that being said, it is a pleasure to hear this live performance at Manhattan's midtown jazz club, Iridium, where Bob Dorough and his friends entertain on most Sunday afternoons. Over the years, Dorough's voice has deepened and a bit of the Arkansas twang has lessened. Also, Dorough serves as a most affable host and provides well chosen and witty words to describe the music. Approximately 6 of the 21 tracks are brief spoken word opportunities. Dorough's group is a lively and swinging combo with Steve Gilmore on bass (normally with Phil Woods) the only known player. Veteran NYC trumpet man and recording artist Joe Wilder sits in on “Sunday” and “Ain't No Spoofin'” adding some good musical punch to the tunes. The latter is a Leroy Vinnegar melody and the title reflects one of the bassist's favorite expressions. Singer Daryl Sherman also shows up to duet and joins Dorough in a four-handed piano setting on “Without Rhyme or Reason.” There is a reciprocal duet between the two on Sherman's latest album A Hundred Million Miracles (Arbors Records, 2004). There is also vocal assistance for the Bobettes (not to be confused with the late 1950s doo-wop femme group) who provide vocal backup on Dorough's pop hit “Comin' Home Baby” later popularized by Herbie Mann and Mel Torme. They also sing on “Electricity, Electricity.”

The songs on this album are largely Dorough originals with a few exceptions. In addition to the aforementioned “Sunday,” Dorough closes with a poignant version of the Laine/Fischer standard “We'll Be Together Again” and features new lyrics to the Sonny Rollins-associated “St.Thomas” which is here retitled “Down St. Thomas Way.” Bob Dorough's forte is his ability to compose incisive lounge songs in the style of the tunes popularized by the Nat King Cole Trio. In fact, when he performs Bobby Troup's “You're Looking At Me” on this album, the blend is perfect. Songs like “You're the Dangerous Type,” “But For Now” and “Baby Used to Be” share, along with the work of Dave Frishberg, a treasure trove for singers and musicians for decades to come.

The resulting album is greatly enhanced by the musicians. Steve Berger on guitar adds some lovely and swinging solo work in the manner of Russell Malone, and demonstrates a lyrical sense. Drummer Ed Ornowski provides just the right shading for percussion. All in all, this is a relaxed and fun session!

by Michael P. Gladstone

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