Bob Dorough: "Eulalia"

January 2014

EulaliaUpbeat Jazz at 90

Merry Lane Records LLC
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Back in the day, one of my favorite bands was Spanky and Our Gang. They were a little stronger on folk than rock and sang some devilishly clever tunes, one of them being "Five Definitions of Love." I marveled that anyone could create such flowing music from reading the dictionary, and I was at a loss to describe the style. Spanky and Our Gang weren't just rock, or just folk, and what was that other element that made them irresistible?

Now I'm quite a bit older and I know. There was a magical touch of jazz in the music, and that came from one of its producers, Bob Dorough. Unfortunately, Spanky and Our Gang died a quick death, as two of its members passed away at much too young an age. But Bob Dorough lives on at 90 years old, and he still plays a wicked jazz piano and writes A+ arrangements. He sings, too, and while it's a threadbare sound much of the time, there's purpose and a lifetime of knowledge in his vocals. And that doesn't just count for something; it counts for a lot.

Dorough does his own version of "Five Definitions of Love," titled "Love (Webster's Dictionary)," and he turns it into a marvelous seven-minute lesson in improvisation. First he sings and plays the song, with solid backing from bass (Steve Gilmore) and drums (Herman Matthews). Then there's an extensive instrumental section for piano, bass, and guitar (Ray Wilson), followed by a recap of the vocal. What fun!

That's the second cut on the disc; the first is the title song, an instrumental that features Dorough's daughter, Aralee Dorough, who is principal flautist of the Houston Symphony. Aralee figures in several cuts on the CD and has a flowing, dulcet sound coupled with fine technique. This song is reprised at the end of the disc. Along the way there's my second favorite, "To Be or Not to Bop," which features positively sensational trumpet playing from Dennis Dotson. But don't get too lost in that to notice what Dorough does with the piano accompaniment. What a master!

"I've Got Just About Everything" and "A Few Days of Glory," the former featuring superlative sax from veteran Phil Woods, are also great cuts, but honestly, there's nothing on this CD that isn't worth hearing more than once.

The sound is lean and crisp, with perfect balances and welcome transparency. It also has that elusive thing that can make a good recording great -- presence! All in all, with so many legendary artists on hand giving their all, Eulalia is a life-affirming listen.

Be sure to listen to: The sax solos from Phil Woods in "A Few Days of Glory" are marvelous, and from a musician who, at 82, can easily keep up with Dorough. What a thrill to hear him play like this!

. . . Rad Bennett
radb@soundstagenetwork.com

More SoundStage! Videos

  • Is Room Correction the Answer? The NAD M33 Integrated Amplifier Review (Take 2, Ep:18)
  • Can Small Speakers Sound Better? DALI Menuet SE Loudspeaker Review (Take 2, Ep:17)
  • Peter Thomas: From the BBC to PMC - SoundStage! Icons (October 2020)
  • Focal Diablo Utopia Colour Evo Loudspeaker Review (Take 2, Ep:16)
  • Sonus faber's Paolo Tezzon on the New Lumina Loudspeakers - SoundStage! Talks (October 2020)
  • Is This the Best Class-D Amplifier? Purifi Audio's Eigentakt Amplifier Review (Take 2, Ep:15)
  • The Simaudio Moon Product Universe - SoundStage! Talks (September 2020)
  • Magico A1 Loudspeaker Review (Take 2, Ep:14)
  • Inside the KEF LS50 Meta - SoundStage! InSight (October 2020)
  • Naim Audio Supernait 3 Integrated Amplifier Review (Take 2, Ep:13)
  • Elac Alchemy DDP-2 Streaming DAC/Preamp Review (Take 2, Ep:12)
  • How Hegel Approaches Integrated Amplifiers - SoundStage! Talks (September 2020)
  • Nordost Talks Clocks, Oscillations, and Synchronization - SoundStage! Talks (September 2020)
  • PMC Fact.8 Signature Loudspeaker Review! (Take 2, Ep:11)
  • Which is Better? Elac Navis ARB-51 vs. Focal Shape 65 (Take 2, Ep:10)
  • Amphion for the Home, the Studio, and Billie Eilish - SoundStage! Talks (August 2020)
  • The NEW Hegel H95 Integrated Amplifier Review ! (Take 2, Ep:9)
  • Estelon: Loudspeaker Excellence and Originality from Estonia - SoundStage! Talks (August 2020)
  • Zero-Distortion Amplification: Halcro Out of Hiatus - SoundStage! Talks (August 2020)
  • Best Active Speaker? Elac Navis ARB-51 Speaker Review (Take 2, Ep:8)
  • Vivid Audio's Inventive and Spectacular S12 Loudspeaker - SoundStage! InSight (August 2020)
  • Qobuz Hi-Res Traction and Younger Listeners, with David Solomon - SoundStage! Talks (July 2020)
  • Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated Amplifier Review (Take 2, Ep:7)