Bob Dorough: Baltimore Oriole
Bob Dorough (piano, vocals)
Just About Everything (Evidence 22094)
Percy Brice (drums).
Composed by Hoagy Carmichael & Paul Francis Webster.
Recorded: New York, March 1966
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
No one has ever sung "Baltimore Oriole" better than Bob Dorough. He recorded it on his debut session as leader in 1956, and then again for his second album a too-long 10 years later. Coincidentally, Hoagy Carmichael, its composer (along with lyricist Paul Francis Webster), also sang it in 1956 on his own Hoagy Sings Carmichael. Carmichael's laconic vocal recalls Jack Teagarden, but since Dorough has cited Teagarden as an influence, surely he was at least indirectly influenced by Carmichael's singing as well, although Dorough usually mentions Nat Cole, Satchmo, Louis Jordan, Trummy Young, Joe Mooney and Blossom Dearie as among his other inspirations. The fact that Dorough has participated in recorded tributes to Carmichael, such as Hoagy's Children and Stardust Melody, indicates his profound love and respect for Hoagy's songs.
Dorough's 1966 version of "Baltimore Oriole" is very similar to his original 1956 interpretation in both arrangement and impact. What makes Dorough's delivery of this tune so enduring is that it plays to his strengths on ballads – a soft, delicately endearing timbre, a pliable voice that clearly articulates every word and phrase of a memorable lyric such as this, and in so doing tells a story with sincere emotion and understanding. His "chirping" piano figure to both open and close the piece provides perfectly evocative bookends. He sings the verse unaccompanied before Tucker and Brice join him for the chorus. From "No time for a lady to be dragging her feathers around in the snow" to the concluding "Come down from that bough, fly to your daddy, fly to your daddy now," Dorough has you in his grasp. (Mischievously, in this rendition, Dorough interjects as an aside that the "Tangipahoa" is "a big river near Baltimore, you know," when in fact it runs between Mississippi and Louisiana.)
Reviewer: Scott Albin