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

History, Mystery and the Legend of Dr. John

Syncoratically speaking:

Dr. John, photographed at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Queens, N.Y. 2014
Dr. John performs at The Last Waltz concert at Winterland in San Francisco, Nov. 1976
Dr. John with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, 2011

At some point, everything in jazz and New Orleans and the American imagination returns to Louis Armstrong. So maybe a part of you is disappointed that Dr. John-the Crescent City’s ambassador of mystery and history and things that rhyme but do so funnily-has recorded something as logical and pat as a Pops tribute album. The doctor’s still most beloved for his voodoo-rock records of the late 1960s and raffish funk hits from the ’70s. A rough, sage-like singer, he projects certainty into uncertain realms.

Then why make Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch (Concord)? “Listen, we’re all syncoratical anyways,” he says. “Life is syncoratical.” That’s Johnian for syncretic: drawing together various ideas, religions, cultures. And the new album is certainly pan-everything.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published