November 28, 2007

Dr. John: Live and Re-Qualified

"Qualified" (Jessie Hill- Mac Rebennack)
Dr. John and the Rampart Street Symphony Orchestra, 11/6/1973

(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

In November 2005, I featured the incredible 1973 studio version of this tune; and although there is a different cast of players here on this live version from November of that same year, I want to testify that this one cooks very nearly as much. You can go back and read what I wrote (in those days the posts were shorter, which will probably please a lot of you). While you're at it, you might check out another post, where I first featured a cut from this performance at Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, NY, which was broadcast on a local radio station. Last summer, after having a generous reader send me a CD containing other material from the show I did not have, I updated the post with a list of the players and some other information.

After I originally posted that live track, I was contacted by none other than Darrell Leonard, who played trumpet for Dr. John on that tour. Darrell now plays with the Phantom Blues Band, maybe best known for their association with Taj Mahal, but all are monster players in their own right. Darrell and saxman for the PBB, Joe Sublett, also perform as a horn section for hire, the Texacali Horns. His cassette tape of the show had long since slipped into another dimension; so I was happy to hook Darrell back up with some of his past glories, at least one gig's worth. From what he told me, playing with Mac was a lot of fun, what he remembers of it!

One of the real pleasures on this live "Qualified" is getting to hear esteemed HOTG drummer John Boudreaux work out on an intense groove, surrounded by a fine ensemble. Throughout the entire show, his touch is impeccable.

There haven't been a lot of Dr. John concert recordings over the years. His first officially sanctioned one was 1997's outstanding Trippin' Live. A decade or so earlier, an LP and CD of a fine London show with a band of Brits, Such A Night, was released in England in the 1980s. I featured a cut from that back in the early days of the blog. There are some other board tapes and the like of shows floating around; but the Ultrasonic gig is hard to beat. Still, the right place to catch the doctah is real live. I encourage you to do so. He definitely still has all of the qualifications.

PS - As I was listening to this once again, I recalled that James Booker performed his own take on this tune live and on record, calling it


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the live CD Trippin' as you mentionned it's too bad that he doesn'tdo more often because the live shows have a real different taste, Ihad the chance to see him play with his large band in Basel (Switzerland) and it was a geat night. Too bad that he doesn't com more often to visit us

The Texacali Horns are really doin' a wonderful job on the Taj's albums specially Senor Blues which is really a great CD

4:29 AM, November 29, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yeah, you right, jipes. And there's a New Orleans connection to Taj's CDs, 'Senor Blues' and 'Phantom Blues' - Jon Cleary on piano. Plus, Taj does several of Cleary's songs on those, plus a few HOTG classics.

9:54 AM, November 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes you're right an nderated pianist here in Europe I have all his solo records with his Monster Gentlemen a great funk unit I really dream os seeing them in the Jazz Fest one day before to be too old to come over to Nawlins.

I discover Jon Cleary and John Mooney on a TV show of the Montreux Jazz Festival when they were playing as the backing band of the Wild Magnolias.

The next week I was looking for their music and got hooked up immediately with their infectious groove ;o) No cure for good ol'time New Orleans blues

2:31 AM, November 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's at least one more official Dr. John live release, "Right Place, Right Time, Live at Tipitina's Mardi Gras 89." I assume it's legit since I bought it on iTunes, but Mac has been ripped off many times in his career (he made a gang and a half 'o people rich, as he sez) so it's hard to tell.

I just saw him last week here in Pittsburgh at a Tipitina's Foundation benefit and he tore the house down with his current 4 piece band the Lower 9-11, featuring Herman "Roscoe" Ernest on drums and John Fohl on guitar. Didn't catch the bassist's name. Mac played piano and B3, sometimes simultaneously. Great show, definitely not a nostalgia act. See him whenever you can.

I also highly recommend Jon Cleary, especially his first CD "Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice" - very traditional NOLA funk with big name guests including George Porter. He's been Bonnie Raitt's pianist for a few years and she has cut a couple of his tunes, too. Like Dr. John, he started out as a guitarist and was mentored by one of the true piano legends, James Booker. He's a limey but you'd never guess.

10:09 PM, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thanks, Bill. Mac's live stuff is still kickin', alright. I think David Barard (formerly of Chocolate Milk) is still on bass for him. Believe that live at Tip's CD is one of his authorized boots - he supplies the show tape, like the Lonestar solo live CD.
But I don't have that one...yet.
And yes, Cleary is a monster gentleman. I featured a cut from 'Alligator Lips' early on here. Since he's still selling that one and has a great audio stream on his website, I have refrained from doing any more.
He's another guy who never seems to do a bad show. Even his off nights are way above most bands best. Feel fortunate to get to see him fairly often down here. He tours a lot,so, eveybody else, catch him when you can.

12:13 AM, December 02, 2007  
Blogger Jer.Eps said...

One of the very best shows I ever saw was the good Dr. at the Prospect Park bandshell in Brooklyn, NY, must have been about '90 or '91.

Big band, including a full horn situation with Fathead taking all the sax solos - that was a HUGE plus! Fathead was ON that night . . . .


12:23 PM, December 02, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Humongus, Jeremy. Gonna be hard to top that night.

4:33 PM, December 02, 2007  

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