Art Blakey, Dr. John and David “Fathead” Newman
Ordinarily you can place as much faith in a record company press release as you can in your average savings and loan pledge of integrity. But Windham Mill is not kidding when it calls this a “classic jam session.”
The album is a free-spirited set of blues-based tunes, with Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) playing loose boogie-woogie piano, ex-Ray Charles sideman Newman blowing exuberantly on sax and flute and venerable jazz drummer Blakey nudging them along zestfully, despite his 70 years.
Rebennack generates an especially invigorating time on the Cousin Joe Pleasant tune “Life’s One Way Ticket.” In a voice that’s the aural equivalent of a big, fat scrawl, he rasps out, “When you get your hands on your big money, you’d better get your hands on everything you can get/ Well, you just can’t take it with you/ I ain’t never seen an armored car at a funeral yet.”
Newman’s sax bursts run happily through the improvised-sounding blues “Need to Be Loved” (with Rebennack spinning off a meaty piano solo). While Blakey sings the standard “For All We Know” in a voice best described as a gentrified croak, his drumming is still full of pace and splash.
This is an exercise in cross-genre mixing, with jazz meeting R & B meeting New Orleans pop meeting three roundly talented musicians. There’s one word for this, and the word is “more.” (Windham Hill)