Dr. John: 'Fess Up
Dr. John (piano)
Goin' Back to New Orleans (Warner Bros. 9 26940-2)
Dr. John (piano).
Composed by Mac Rebennack.
Recorded: New Orleans, 1992
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, is a walking, talking compendium of New Orleans music. As session cat, genial tickler of the ivories (organ keys and guitar strings too), gris-gris hoodoo-man, gargle-voiced blues shouter, worldwide rock star, and tireless proponent of all that's Easy—not to mention serious jazz pianist and master of Crescent City r&b—he has lived and largely defined the late 20th Century idea of New Orleans musician. His few solo piano albums are brilliant, and so too many of his slice-of-NOLA releases reinvigorating "funky butt" r&b. Still, in the end it's Mac at the piano that matters most as he takes the whole tradition into his hands every time he sits down at a keyboard.
While the good Doctor has recorded many tributes to Professor Longhair (his inspiration and early mentor) over the years, none tops his tune called "'Fess Up." To portray the Professor, Mac employs a dash of "Hadacol," a brief trace of "Tipitina," and maybe a hint of "She Walks Right In," plus a whole new spritely rising melody. Just "radiatin' the 88," says Mac, as he casually mixes Longhair's Caribbean rhumba in with a sly dose of Cow Cow Davenport, some "double note crossovers," and a smudgin' of boogie-woogie too. You could go barrel-housin' all night long—a whole 'nother night trip of sorts—with nothing more than Dr. John con-'Fessin' this-a-way.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher
If you liked this track, also check out
A History of New Orleans Music in 100 Tracks edited by Ted Gioia