New York, NY
December 1, 2013
This overall performance of Bob Dorough’s most wonderful creations to date, borrows the title of track 6 where Bob plays and sings one of his feel good songs from earlier in his career that tells the story. The repertoire contains new treatments from his past, and presents new presents from his present presence. You can mark him present.
The mellifluous opener “Eulalia” (originally written for Sam Most in 1954) sets an ethereal mood, enveloping one with pristine beauty. The flutist is Aralee Dorough, Bob’s daughter, first chair flute in the Houston Symphony. Every time I listen, it puts me into a soothing reverie.
Among other feelings there is a lot of love in Bob’s writing and vocals. His song “Love”(Webster’s Dictionary) features an intimate, melodious voice, delicate pianism and the plangent sway of the samba. A supple, in the atmosphere, bass solo by Steve Gilmore and Ray Wilson’s Latinate guitar with Dorough’s intertwining earn their yearnings.
More love is in the query “What Ever Happened to Love Songs,” music by Dorough and lyrics from Bill Loughborough, the man who constructed “Boo-Bams,” a tuneful, vibes-like percussion instrument. Bob’s questioning vocal is passionate and abetted by the electric bass of Keith Vivens, Aralee’s fruitful flute, Dennis Dotson’s muted trumpet and the various vibes of Mike Mizma (I hear some Boo-Bamic sounds). Then Bob re-enters to make his case. That last note is a spine-tingler.
Is “But For Now” a blues ballad or blues and a ballad? Never mind, there is no dichotomy here. It is both, and Bob has his heart on his sleeve and in the music with sterling accompaniment by trombonist Thomas Hultén.
The tempo is up on “To Be or Not to Bop.” To Be it is and everyone is up on the tempo including the fluid bop of tenor saxophonist Warren Sneed and trumpeter Dennis Dotson, Steve Gilmore’s authority and drummer Herman Matthews’ in the pocket beat. Bob is up to speed and does some fleet scatting into the home stretch and after.
“I’ve Got Just About Everything” really heat things up. Dotson is again part of the ensemble with his gorgeous sound at any tempo, and highly connective melody line. Enter the masterful Phil Woods who takes off into the ozone for several flights before engaging in a roundelay of “fours” with Dotson and Matthews. Bob is up to speed in his opening vocal, with his piano and his scatting to the finale and after where he invents a few new words.
Here we come to “A Few Days of Glory,” music by Dorough, lyrics from Fran Landesman (remember “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” and “Spring Can Hang You Up the Most” in the vein of the beat generation’s Dorothy Parker?). The spirit in this spiritual will raise you up if you are dispirited, really feeling low and confronted by problems that have beaten you down to your socks. It opens with a strong backbeat from drummer Herman Matthews, with Choirmaster Gary Mitchell Jr., vocal and Hammond B3 organ, and his choir; Tammie Bradley, vocal; Thomas Hultén’s tuba; and the power of the entire orchestra. Warren Sneed is on soprano sax this time, and soars with a strong sound. Next comes Phil Woods. I have been listening to him for close to 64 years at this writing. He was good when he was first with Prestige and has gotten better and better through the years until he is the ne plus ultra of alto sax. Having reached and maintained his position, he is capable of going a step further at any given moment. His two solos on “A Few Days of Glory” blew me away, tugging at my heart and feeding my soul.
The two pieces that bring to an end this marvelous array of divers delights are more ruminative. “Consummation” by Bob’s great friend and colleague, Joe Peine, who also is a flutist, was a shortened version for Aralee to play. All of 0:41 it gave me a Far Eastern feeling, Zen-like, but before it finishes moves closer West.
The closer, “Eulalia the Song”, slightly shorter than the version that opens this Garden of Delight, is that Dad is at the piano and together with his talented daughter.
Jazz came to Bob Dorough very early and, buttressed by his passion for the music he has traveled a long and sometimes rocky trail to success. By dint of his ingenuity, instinct and fortitude, further fortified by a belief in himself, he became a composer-arranger, lyricist and pianist handling many moods. He emerged as a hip vocalist with his Texas twang. On his “To Be or Not To Bop” he urges us to “Get some Charlie Parker in your soul.” Bob Dorough has “Charlie Parker in his Soul.”