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Dr. John: Right Place, Right Time

Dr. John
Dr. John (photo: Lisa Houlgrave)

Recorded at Tipitina’s in New Orleans during Mardi Gras 1989, Right Place, Right Time has the good Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack) pulling out such crowd pleasers as “Junco Partner,” Earl King’s “Let the Good Times Roll,” Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” and Doc Pomus’ “Such a Night.” Tenor saxophonist Amadee Castenell and trumpeter Charlie Miller make strong solo contributions while Rebennack tickles the ivories in the spirited manner of his hero and mentor Professor Longhair (particularly on “Traveling Mood” and “Kinfolks”). This edition of Dr. John’s Lower 911, featuring bassist David Barard, drummer Herman Ernest and guitarist Tommy Moran, also turns in haunting renditions of “Walk on Guilded Splinters” and “Black Widow.”

Dr. John’s latest offering, Mercernary, is an inventive twist on the Johnny Mercer songbook. Done up in a similar vein to Rebennack’s distinctly New Orleans-flavored tribute to Duke Ellington (2000’s Duke Elegant), it features funkified renditions of “Blues in the Night” (based on Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin'”) and “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby” along with similarly Mac-ified takes on Mercer staples like “Personality,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Moon River,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Lazy Bones,” along with a clever instrumental Afro-Cuban rendition of “I’m an Old Cow Hand.” Featuring the current edition of his Lower 911 band, which still features charter members Barard, Ernest and Miller, Dr. John offers one original in the self-deprecating love song “I Ain’t No Johnny Mercer” and closes out the set with Danny Barker’s “Save the Bones for Henry Jones.” Nothin’ but a good time here.

Originally Published