Bob Dorough at Jazz at Kitano, with my friend and fellow Dorough fan Terry King, in August 2012. We were thrilled to meet him.
The great jazz singer, songwriter and pianist Bob Dorough passed away yesterday at 94. Perennially young and energetic, we thought he would go on forever. I saw him give a breezy, masterful performance at Jazz at Kitano four years ago, when he was 90. He sang and played like someone 30 years younger, with his pony tail and that patented Arkansas twang of his that, somehow, added to his hipster image. I interviewed him and reviewed the show for DownBeat. He will no doubt be best remembered for “Schoolhouse Rock,” for which he wrote and recorded many of the songs. But his great songbook also includes the immortal “Devil May Care,” “I’m Hip” (with Dave Frishberg), and “Nothing Like You Has Ever Been Seen Before.” He also holds the distinction of being one of the only vocalists ever to sing on a Miles Davis album (Sorcerer).
Bob Dorough meets Cecile McLorin Salvant at the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival (photo: AM).
In August 2015, I witnessed his first meeting with Cecile McLorin Salvant following her performance at the Newport Jazz Festival. He presented her with a folio of some of his songs that he thought she might like. She was thrilled and subsequently added “Devil May Care” and “Nothing Like You” to her repertoire.
“Nothing like him,” indeed.
The 2017 Newport Jazz Festival was, as usual, a showcase and a proving ground for great soloists. Here’s my recap, concentrating on a few of the finest performances I heard, including those of vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant (above) who performed with the Aaron Diehl Trio; the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the Benny Golson Quartet; and the Christian McBride Big Band.
In November, DownBeat published a condensed version of my conversation with the brilliant young pianist Aaron Diehl, who some of you may know best as the accompanist and musical director for singer Cecile McLorin Salvant. A pianist of extraordinary refinement like, say, Ahmad Jamal, he can also swings as hard as Oscar Peterson, who was also an influence.
Aaron and I talked music for nearly three hours in his Harlem living room, as he sat at his Steinway grand illustrating his remarks with musical examples. DownBeat.com has just published an extended version of this Q&A, along with a sidebar about his exploits as a private pilot. Enjoy, then check out his playing on his recent album Space Time Continuum (Mack Avenue) and on Cecile’s recent album For One To Love (Mack Avenue).
…for her 2nd #Grammys nomination in two years, this time for her 2nd album on @MackAvenueMusic, For One To Love, with the brilliant Aaron Diehl (piano), Paul Sikivie (bass) and Lawrence Leathers (drums). What a pleasure it was to write this profile of her, from the August 2014 DownBeat.
Cassandra Wilson at Newport 2015
The first of two pieces about the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival.
After only one U.S. album release, she swept the 2014 DownBeat Critics Poll, winning not only Best Female Vocalist and Rising Star Female Vocalist, but, more unexpectedly, Jazz Album of the Year and Rising Star Jazz Artist. In person, she is whip-smart, a little shy, mature beyond her 24 years, and surprisingly modest about her gifts. I loved writing this interview, which you can read here.
… for a future issue of DownBeat. Get a taste here: http://ow.ly/xcBH3