Dr. John did his Dr. John thing last night to a packed house at Jazz Alley. Not sure if he’s sold out for the weekend or not; if it isn’t, definitely worth checking this legend Friday or Saturday. He’s playing with an all new band of top notch players that are funky as hell. Dr. John shuffled out rocking a purple suit, sun glasses and a tooth necklace. Swapped all evening between a Nord keyboard and a grand piano (with a skull on it) doing his signature stride sound with signature singing, including weird Dr. John voodoo incantations. For one tune, he stood up and busted out an electric guitar, playing some sweet licks. No doubt, he still has guitar chops. But he really shines on the keys. (Check out this session with Mary McPartland if you want to geek out on jazz piano.) He played obscure stuff and the hits, including “Right Place,” “Such A Night,” “Good Night Irene,” “Iko Iko,” “Let The Good Times Roll,” “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark” plus a bunch off his most recent record.
The backing band, comprised of Sarah Morrow (trombone), Bobby Floyd (organ), Joel Johnson (guitar), Dwight Bailey (bass) and Reggie Jackson (drums), was stellar. You could tell they were new to the tunes and arrangements, which was cool, cause you could literally watch them as they found the grooves and enjoyed the changes. They were all monster players, but subservient to what each song needed. Jackson on drums was dialed in, never overplaying, laying down the backbeat, occasionally bustin out, especially with Johnson on guitar, whose solos ventured into weird jazz territory often, when he didn’t play it straight. Would love to see these two in a different context, bet they’d shred. Overall, the whole set was just damn professional, the way the songs were arranged and rendered. Great night.