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Bob Dorough

If you talk about a musician who is special to you, are you (in the end) (again!) talking about yourself? Well, yes. I suppose you are. But, no matter – I do want to talk about Bob Dorough, for whose music I placed a big order at Amazon last week. Apparently they manufacture one of the items I wanted only on demand, so I am still waiting for the whole shipment to arrive; but this is my Syncretismas gift to myself this year. You can listen to the samples if you are not familiar with the man’s music here. I had not thought of Bob Dorough or listened to him in a very long time. I used to have his stuff on audio cassettes. Then when that technology became extinct I tossed out the whole kit and caboodle which I had accumulated during one of my major clean out sessions some years back and Bob Dorough’s music went out with the rest. And then lately I started hearing his songs in my head. Why I hadn’t done so in so long I have no idea. Anyway, the real music should be arriving in a few weeks and I cannot wait!

For someone who adores The Who, Bob Dorough may appear to be a somewhat bizarre choice but nevertheless I love his music – and I love Bob Dorough. He does “vocalese”, which means he adds lyrics to jazz standards that are essentially conceived of as instrumental music. And then he also sings quite a few regular jazz standards that others have in their repertoire as well. Like Polkadots and moonbeams, after which I named a whole alpha.tribe outfit. I do not really care for any of the other versions of this song sung by other vocalists, but his I love!

And much the same also goes for Devil may care and even Midnight sun (although admittedly Sarah Vaughn does a pretty mean Midnight sun as well).

He sings almost like as if he is talking, even maybe whispering. And yet there is still the melody. But he sort of teeters on the edge of melody, doesn’t seem to make a big deal out of it almost and yet it pours out perfectly of course. Off the cuff he is. Naughty. Mischievous. The voice of the refusal to grow up. Sticking to your guns of childhood as you plod through your boring old grown up life. And it carries both the joy and the sadness embedded into that state of being, which would inevitably bring with it humor and idiosyncrasies. And somehow Bob Dorough sings all of this, brings his psyche through in his vocals: Very tongue-in-cheek, very mercurial, very tough to pin down. Almost impossible to categorize, almost impossible to put a label onto.

Like I said – I love Bob Dorough. I love the music itself  of course, it is awesome. But I do more than just love the music in Bob Dorough’s case. I hear the one who sings it and love what the voice tells me of its owner

I just rooted around online a bit and Bob Dorough is alive and well at the age of 87. He has a page on my-space and I am almost tempted to sign up and become his friend there. Bloody shyness stopping me of course. In any case, although it is extremely unlikely that he will ever hear me doing so, I wish him all the very best of health and longevity and good spirits in the upcoming decade!


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