Jun 8, 2019
I first caught a glimpse of Dr. John on ABC's "In Concert" TV Series in the early 1970's. Cat Stevens had an episode entitled "Moon & Star" and featured Linda Ronstadt and Dr. John as guests. Was there ever a greater opposite than the Night Tripper than the laid-back Cat? Decked out in feathers and spangles, throwing glitter as he worked his way through the audience, this guy was a SIGHT. And then he opened his mouth to sing a cover of Stevens' "Pop Star", and what came out was gravely, soulful and to my ears, irresistible.
Dr. John - born Malcom John Rebennack Jr, aka Mac Rebennack - was nothing short of a legend. He carried the torch of New Orleans piano players that started with Jellyroll Morton and came tp include Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, James Booker and eventually Henry Butler, and Jon Batiste. Mac played that wonderful gumbo of soul, blues, jazz, funk and rock that to me was inseparable from New Orleans.
I saw him a few times live - once on a quad bill with Storyville, the Neville Brothers and B.B. King, and he never disappointed. Telling stories, cracking jokes, talking that mix of Nawlins patois and voodoo mumbo-jumbo - there was no one quite like Dr. John.
To honor his passing yesterday of a heart attack at the age o 77, enjoy an hour plus of his music. These selections concentrate on his recordings of standards, jazz classics, and New Orleans piano. The Night Tripper's last crawl is done,but his music lives on.
Musical selections include:
"We Gettin' There (with Terence Blanchard)"
"Come Rain or Come Shine"
"Memories of Professor Longhair"
"Little Liza Jane"
"Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You"
"Medley: Just a Closer Walk With Thee/Didn't he Ramble?"
"Swanee River Boogie"
"I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say"
"In a Sentimental Mood"
"It Don't Mean a THing (If It Ain't Got that Swing)"
"St. James Infirmary"
"Sweet Home New Orleans"