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The greatest of the great Dr John
on 31 May 2007
GUMBO is one of my all-time favourite albums and my favourite in the cannon of my favourite jazz piano player, Dr John.
Back in the 1970s, a pal of mine was a huge Dr John fan and tried very hard to get me enthused about the Voodoo mumblings that made up albums like Gris-Gris and Remedies ... to no avail. Until I heard GUMBO. Though I didn't know it at the time, I was to become a massive fan (via The Blues Brothers) of artists like Junior Wells and the later Atlantic and Stax musicians. What Dr John showed me here was where those musicians took their inspiration from.
I don't think many will argue that Dr John isn't one of the best living jazz pianists we have, and his perky barrel-house style is very much in evidence here. And because of this album, I've sought out opportunities to see the great man live and seen his playful duets with Jools Holland on telly, all richly rewarding experiences.
In retrospect, of course, I came to appreciate Dr John's other work, and have marvelled at the range of famous musicians who've queued up to work with him (Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, the list goes on), making him the quintessential musician's musician.
Contrary to other reviews about Dr John's work, I'm more inclined to say that if you want an introduction to one of the greatest musicians of the last fifty years, then start here, with a taste of GUMBO.