REVIEW: Dr. John “Ske-Dat-De-Dat – The Spirit of Satch” is Tight, Antsy, Punchy and Smooth


Dr. John – Ske-Dat-De-Dat – The Spirit of Satch

Recorded in Dec. ‘13 & released as the last Dr. John studio LP (Aug. ‘14) these tracks on Dr. John – Ske-Dat-De-Dat – The Spirit of Satch (Limited edition vinyl drops June 5 – Last Music) is pianist Mac Rebennack’s tribute to Satchmo.

Mac — (1941-2019 – a 6-time Grammy-winning ambassador of New Orleans Music & R&R Hall of Fame inductee), is joined by an impressive assortment of musicians. Among the musicians: Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, Cuban-rapper Telmary, hip-hop vocalist Mike Ladd, blues singer Bonnie Raitt, Anthony Hamilton, Louisiana trumpeter Wendell Brunius, the McCrary Sisters, New Orleans’ singer Ledesi (great on “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”), trumpeter James “12” Andrews, blues singer Shemekia Copeland (hot on “Sweet Hunk of Trash”), & the Dirty Dozen Jazz Band.

“What a Wonderful World,” has Mac & Nicholas Payton (trumpet) with the Blind Boys of Alabama. Some cuts are startling takes. Far & away from what many remember as the classic. “Mack The Knife,” is neither in the style of Louis Armstrong or Bobby Darin. It’s light-years from its German Brecht-Weill origins. It doesn’t diminish the performance, but Dr. John reaches with his special signature to reinvent the tune. You’ll either like it or won’t. Terence Blanchard’s trumpet & Dr. John’s jive-like reading = Coolsville.

The 13-track tribute has grooves laid down that’s to be expected: tight, antsy, punchy, inspired & smooth.

Raitt & Mac shine on “I’ve Got the World on a String” & the big band buff solidly swings. Payton offers a firm trumpet solo on “Gut Bucket Blues.” There’s a possibility Dr. John fans may be disappointed it isn’t more of a Dr. John effort for a last recorded performance. But they have to realize Mac did what he believed. He did it with spirit & panache. All entertainers have a secret stash of musicians they admire. Somewhere in their career, they need to pay some “Spirit Gig” respect to their heroes. Dr. John did it.

“That’s My Home,” is a fine example of what Dr. John could’ve sounded like had he recorded commercial pop big band in the pre-Elvis 50s. He had great tone & style – like Louis. The McCrary Sisters sparkle.

Terence’s horn on “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,” channels Louis Armstrong’s horn brilliantly.  More in a Dr. John groove is “Dippermouth Blues,” — Mac pounds his piano & the “Satchmo of the Ghetto” James “12” Andrews blows hot.

Closing with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s fiery “When You’re Smiling” Dr. John exits with legends in Heaven applauding. I’d like to think Louis greeted Dr. John at the gates of Heaven last year. With his horn in hand & big white teeth smiling ear to ear.

The 59-minute CD was produced by Dr. John & Sarah Morrow. Available at Amazon.



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