Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Rockin’ Rick Derringer Goes Soft

If jazz fans rolled their eyes when Kenny G. dropped a sample of Louis Armstrong into his version of “What a Wonderful World,” classic-rock fans will surely have fits when they hear their cherished “Rock-n-Roll Hootchie Koo” redone in super-slick smooth jazz. And how are the rockers going to feel when I tell them that the man who smoothed the edges of the overplayed tune is Rick Derringer (pictured), the very man who in the ’70s made “Hoochie” such a big hit? Say it ain’t so, Ricky, say it ain’t so.

Indeed it is so, and smooth jazz gains a guitarist of considerable skill in Derringer, who has lent his talents to top-selling acts like Steely Dan and Barbara Streisand. Derringer’s remake of “Hootchie Koo” (re-titled “Jazz Koo”) can currently be heard on smooth-jazz radio and is one of eleven tracks on his first release as a jazz artist, Free Ride, to be released by Big3 Records on Sept. 17.

The album has a couple more tracks of rock-gone-smooth with versions of two Edgar Winter hits, “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein.” The rest of the tracks are new Derringer originals, three of them co-written by his wife, Brenda Hall. Hall was in fact the one who inspired the project, bless her heart, and she also contributed vocals and the vocal arrangement to the title track. Derringer sings himself on two ballads.

Full track list:

Jazzy Koo (Rock-N-Roll Hoochie Koo)

Hot and Cool

Celestial Love

Free Ride

Big City Loneliness

Good 2 Go

Frankenstein (Smooth Frank)


Blue Velvet

Jump, Jump, Jump

Rhapsody in Red (pt. 1 Waltz of the Scarlet Flames, pt. 2 Ruby in the Rocks, pt. 3 Crimson Chariot)

Originally Published