Album release: “Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch” by Dr John
Release date: 1 September 2014
Label: Proper Records
Listen on: official Dr John website
New Orleans musical giant pays tribute to fellow Crescent City legend Louis Armstrong with star-studded, divinely-inspired new tribute disc. Special guests include Bonnie Raitt, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Shemekia Copeland, Terence Blanchard and Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and six-time GRAMMY®-winner Dr. John is New Orleans’ most prominent living musical icon. The embodiment of his hometown’s freewheeling creative spirit and multiple musical traditions, he’s built a visionary, idiosyncratic body of work that’s deeply rooted in the Crescent City’s myriad blues, R&B, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll traditions.
So it’s fitting that Dr. John’s new album on Proper Records, “Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch”, pays heartfelt tribute to another larger-than-life New Orleans legend: the seminal trumpeter and vocalist Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, whose musical innovations created the template for 20th-century jazz, and whose playful attitude and life-embracing spirit made him a beloved figure whose worldwide appeal transcended music.
“He’s the most famous guy that ever came out of my neighbourhood,” notes Dr. John. “He became a legend all over, for his trumpet playin’ and everything else, and he was the United States’ ambassador to the world.”
Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch honours Armstrong’s musical genius as well as his effervescent personality with 13 classic numbers drawn from various phases of Armstrong’s five-decade career, with Dr. John joined by a stellar supporting cast that manages to update the material while maintaining the music’s timeless emotional appeal.
The subtitle The Spirit of Satch is particularly appropriate given the album’s birth cycle, which Dr. John says was set into motion when the late Armstrong—whom he’d only met once during his lifetime, in the office of their mutual manager Joe Glaser—came to him in a dream.
“Louis’s spirit came to me and told me to do something, that’s how this whole thing started,” says Dr. John, who’s previously released tribute albums to musical giants Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer. “Louis told me, ‘Take my music and do it your way.’ It was the most unexpected thing in the world to me, to have Louis’ spirit show up like that, but he gave me a concept of where to roll with it that was spiritually correct. That made me feel very open to try some different things, because I felt that his spirit had ok’ed this record.”
Prior to making the album, Dr. John honoured Satchmo on stage, presenting rapturously received tribute concerts, dubbed “Props to Pops,” at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2012 and at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2013.