mon 16/09/2019

CD: Dr John - Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Dr John - Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch

CD: Dr John - Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch

New Orleans’ titan sits on his laurels in the company of Louis Armstrong

Dr John: Ske-Dat-De-Dat

To most people, Louis Armstrong wasn’t the young jazz firebrand of “St James Infirmary” but the smiley old bloke who sang “What a Wonderful World”. Unfortunately, Dr John’s latest album – a tribute to Satchmo – isn’t going to change this perception at all. In fact, there’s a fair chance that anybody coming to Armstrong’s music for the first time through this collection is going to assume that the great man spent his time turning out seriously dull, middle-of-the-road lift music.

“What a Wonderful World” itself is served up as easy listening, light entertainment that’s all glitter and no soul, despite a nice trumpet solo by Nicholas Payton. “Mack the Knife” sees the Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht classic get a jazz-funk make-over with a particularly awful rap by Mike Ladd dumped on it. “I’ve Got the World on a String” is humdrum and sluggish and features Bonnie Raitt, the queen of middle-of-the-road blandness, while “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” is enough to send anybody to sleep, despite Terence Blanchard’s lovely trumpet playing.

Fortunately, there are a couple of breaks from this second-rate cabaret music. “Gut Bucket Blues” offers more nice trumpet work from Payton and “Dippermouth Blues” similarly shows that Louis Armstrong never had a great deal in common with the tedious Kenny G. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to say the same about Dr John these days.

Ske-Dat-De-Dat could very well win Dr John a Grammy award in 2015, as it is full of the kind of guest artists that excite big record companies and people who aren’t particularly into music. It’s unlikely to be remembered as one of his better records at any point in the future, though. All of which is particularly disappointing after 2012’s return to form, the collaboration with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, Locked Down.

Anybody coming to Armstrong’s music for the first time through this collection is going to assume that the great man spent his time turning out seriously dull, middle-of-the-road lift music

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