Dr.JOHN – Mercernary 2006

Dr.JOHN – Mercernary 2006

Blues

Though Dr. John is by no means the first musician from the rock era to take a stab at the classic American songbook, the results have rarely been as satisfying as this. While all of the material was written by, inspired by, or associated with Johnny Mercer, this is very much a Dr. John album, with Mac Rebennack and his ace New Orleans rhythm section giving selections from “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” to “Moon River” a funky, Crescent City spin. With the good doctor applying piano syncopation to an instrumental expansion of “I’m an Old Cow Hand” and giving his sly, playful rasp to a jaunty “Dream” and a bluesy “Come Rain or Come Shine,” this tribute not only attests to the range, craftsmanship, and enduring appeal of Mercer’s all-American music, it reflects the New Orleans master’s interpretive depth.
By Don McLeese.
**
Dr John has done is again. He has taken the funk or “fonk ” as he calls it of New ‘Awlins and mixed it up with Johnny Mercer’s songs, that old southern boy,” that Dr John can relate to. As he says, “That’s why I think of Johnny Mercer as a mercenary,”he was a hustler; he knew how to survive out there. He always wanted to write Broadway shows, but because he wasn’t from New York, they wouldn’t let him get in the clique. So the next best thing he could make a hustle out of doing was to go to Hollywood and write songs for movies; he had some success doing that.
Dr John fills this CD with joyfull grit. It does not in any way sound like the old regulation VFW tunes that we may have come to expect with Johnny Mercer. Each song, has been made for Mac Rebennack, Dr John’s birth name. The project came to fruition from a suggestion of his daughter Tina, who pointed out that “Personality,” would be a perfect fit for her dad’s down-home style. In fact, Tina suggested, why not do a whole album of songs written or popularized this giant of American popular music? Dr John agreed and set his band up. That old magic came to life with each and every recording. They were so in tune that each song was done in one or two takes.
Dr John had a handful of songs in mind from the start, including “Blues in the Night,” “Lazy Bones,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Save the Bones for Henry Jones” and “Tangerine,” and each one bears no resemblance to any of the old tunes. Even “Moon River” is Dr Johns. You can savor the tune, but your feet are tapping-tapping to Moon River? Yes, suh,BK. “Dream” and “Old Cowhand” are played like you have never heard them before. Mercernary honors not only Johnny Mercer, but New Orleans. Every note played by Dr. John and his fellow musicians is the sound of living New Orleans.
“What is the secret to musical longevity?” the legendary New Orleans artist had a ready answer. “Living,” he replied. Through more than half a century of music making, Mac Rebennack Jr. has been doing just that as he’s rolled with the highs and lows that come with being a working musician, and these days he finds himself in an extended stretch of being in the right place at the right time. Now 65, this American icon, whom fellow legend Jerry Wexler once described as “the blackest white man I know, is at his peak.”
And we are the lucky recipients of this artist. Highly Recommended.
By Pris Rob.
**
For as much as Dr. John is associated with New Orleans R&B, he’s logged plenty of miles roaming through the Great American Songbook. On MERCERNARY, he manages to bring the two worlds together. On this tribute to the great songwriter Johnny Mercer, the old Night Tripper takes Mercer-penned standards like “Blues in the Night” and “That Old Black Magic” and comes dangerously close to redefining them. By adding his patented serpentine Big Easy groove to these well worn tunes, he comes up with a new sound that blows a breath of fresh air into the Mercer catalog–a feat few other interpreters could manage.
**
Dr. John- (Vocals, Piano);
John Fohl- (Guitars);
Eric Truab, Herbert Hardisty- (Tenor Sax);
Alonzo Bowen- (Baritone Sax);
Charlie Miller- (Trumpet);
David Barard- (Bass Guitar);
Herman Ernest III- (Drums, Percussion);
Kenyatta Simon- (Percussion).
**
01. Blues in the Night (Mercer) 4:38
02. You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby (Mercer) 3:41
03. Personality (Burke, VanHeusen) 3:36
04. Hit the Road to Dreamland (Mercer)     4:11
05. I’m an Old Cow Hand (Mercer) 4:18
06. Dream (Mercer) 2:33
07. Lazy Bones     (Carmichael, Mercer) 3:47
08. That Old Black Magic (Mercer) 3:24
09. Come Rain or Come Shine (Mercer) 5:28
10. Moon River (Mancini, Merver) 2:37
11. Tangerine (MerCer, Schertzinger) 4:37
12. I Ain’t No Johnny (Mercer, Rebennack) 3:15
13. Save the Bones for Henry Jones (Barker, Jones, Lee) 3:40
**


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