Bob Dorough is the veritable incarnation of the spirit of youth. His energy, enthusiasm and zest shine on unabated as he approaches his ninth decade of life and his eight of spreading joy as a consummate music-maker. Always ready for something new, Bob's response to Kent and Lois Heckman's excellent idea of pairing him with like-minded performers in a program of new and unique interpretations of gems from his rich catalog of songs was to say, "Let's do it."
"I hadn't done much duetting," Bob said (I've caught him in that act with Carol Fredette and Daryl Sherman), "and some of the songs required new verses to make it work, but it was fun adapting to the idea of duets." The arrangements, of course, are all new.
The results are wonderful, shedding new light on old favorites ("Devil May Care" dates back to 1956, and the eponymous LP was my introduction to Bob) and illuminating later ones. Each of the 11 numbers has something special to offer as Bob interacts with his vocal and instrumental companions, many of whom are old friends, and neighbors as well. The Poconos are known for their natural beauty, but they are also a repository of jazz talent. Among those who make their homes here are Phil Woods, Dave Liebman, Bill Goodwin, Jesse Green, and Sherrie Maricle, and Bob tells me that Nellie McKay went to high school in the neighborhood. The Deer Head Inn is a favored performance venue, and East Stroudsburg University the home of the Al Cohn Collection. No wonder, then, that the music on this great CD has the warmth of an in-gathering of old and new friends.
There are highlights on every number, too many to list here, but including Phil Wood's contributions to "Devil May Care" and one of my favorite Dorough songs, "Love Came On Stealthy Fingers", with some lovely voicings by Bob for himself and Heather Masse; the exemplary vocal interplay between Bob and Nellie McKay - dig that last note - who Bob calls "a young genius" (I'm also a fan); the new verse and the scat exchanges with JD Walter on "I've Got Just About Everything;" the happy groove, vocal and instrumental, on "Comin' Home Baby," which could become a hit again; Dave Liebman's super-liquid soprano and Janis Siegel's fine blend with Bob on "Up Jumped A Bird," with particularly fine words by Bob; Vic Juris's soulful guitar on "Small Day Tomorrow," yet another example of the many vocal and instrumental colors on display; the bossa nova groove on "The Song of the Mourning Dove," with a fine flute appearance by Bob's daughter Aralee; the spirited optimism of "Sunshine Morning," with no less than a nine-piece swinging band, and the fine vocal blend of Bob and Nancy Reed on "There's Never Been a Day," with a lyric that lends itself particularly well to duetting.
But to this early octogenarian, who wants to be like Bob Dorough when he grows up, the most touching of the fine and varied performances here is Bob's duet with
the youngest of his partners, the amazing Grace Kelly, whose vocal sound, as pretty as that of her alto sax, blends so well with Bob's on the tender "I'm Waiting For Someone."
No generation gap here between 20 and 88! Bob Dorough has indeed got just about everything we need to brighten our lives! - Dan Morgenstern
Dan Morgenstern recently retired after 35 years as director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark, Dan is the author of "Living With Jazz" (Pantheon Books).