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Bob Dorough - Devil's Best Tunes: The Beatnik Scat of Bob Dorough

  by Lisa Torem

published: 11 / 10 / 2011

Bob Dorough - Devil's Best Tunes: The Beatnik Scat of Bob Dorough
Label: Fingertip Records
Format: CD


Endearing and inspiring collection of classic tune covers from television soundtrack writer-turned-jazz pianist, Bob Dorouagh

In America, pianist and composer Bob Dorough’s greatest claim to fame was making math more palatable to US youth. To that end, he wrote music for the educational series, ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ ‘Three is the Magic Number’ is one selection that became a catchy favorite. But Dorough’s other persona is that of pianist/scat singer/ composer. His ‘The Devil’s Best Tunes – the Beatnik Scat of Bob Dorough’ speaks to that image. In this album, Dorough reaches deeply into the American Songbook; tinkling ivories and scatting his way through such classics as ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’, ‘Johnny One Note’ and ‘Yardbird Suite’ – on which he even adds his own narrative spin. It is clear throughout that Dorough loves his instrument and has great regard for these jazzy staples. His background is unpretentious and noteworthy. He engaged in the anthology fusion of poetry/jazz: ‘Jazz Canto Volume One’ in the late 1950s. The works of Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas and Walt Whitman were featured in this project. He also served time as co-producer, along with Stu Scharf, for 'Spanky and Our Gang.’ and penned compositions for the iconic Mel Torme. He has performed with Blossom Dearie and rubbed elbows with beat poet Allen Ginsberg, too. That said, Dorough’s place in music history has probably been hidden by his more commercial ventures. Here, he shows off his best arrangements. They are collectively inspiring and refreshingly done in a natural manner; some done alongside a quartet or quintet; the latter his own and then the Sam Most Quartet. Dorough’s voice is somewhat nondescript compared to what many of us would associate with tunes that have been covered by top notch vocalists throughout the years. Yet, he uses well the instrument he has. His sense of nuance is endearing and he makes each arrangement shine. He is an accomplished pianist and a creative arranger. Because of this release, we have gotten to know him much better and that’s a treat.

Track Listing:-

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