Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Was I alone in thinking that we had heard the last of the wonderful Bob Dorough on recordings?  A seminal musical figure in the life of anyone who was a child in the 1960’s, he worked onstage with Lenny Bruce and Allen Ginsburg; wrote and recorded with Miles Davis (“Blue Xmas”); produced Spanky and Our Gang (“Sunday Will Never Be the Same”); and most importantly, was the pivotal figure behind Schoolhouse Rock! Not only did those animated vignettes teach my generation about grammar and math, but the hip-hop generation that followed returned to the tracks as material to sample – check De La Soul’s use of “Three is a Magic Number”. 

And now, with Bob pushing 90 years young, we get a  new CD,  Bob Dorough Duets; which is exactly what its title implies – an album of all Bob Dorough compositions with Bob singing each song with a different artist. On this recording he is paired with the New York Voices, Nellie McKay, JD Walter, Heather Masse, Janis Siegel, Grace Kelly and others, on some of his most iconic songs such as “Devil May Care”, “I’m Hip” (which is my favorite), “Comin’ Home Baby”, and more. The recording also features Grace Kelly, Phil Woods and David Liebman on saxophones, Phil Markowitz on piano, and many other musicians from Bob’s ‘neighborhood.’ 

 The CD is a fundraising project for COTA, the Celebration of The Arts Jazz Festival ( in the Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania – a local event for Mr. Dorough and his friends. The festival also sponsors a jazz camp ( and youth big band. These events are fostering young talent and keeping jazz alive!

ALL THE PROCEEDS FROM YOUR PURCHASE OF THIS CD GO TO THESE PROGRAMS. The cd can only be purchased directly from the COTA's mission is "to present and support the art of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth, and to support and cultivate interest in art through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area.

CD/LP/Track Review

Bob Dorough: Duets (2013)

By  Published: June 24, 2013
Bob Dorough: Duets

Is vocalist/pianist/composer Bob Dorough the Mose Allison of Cherry Hill, Arkansas or is Mose Allison the Bob Dorough of Tippo, Mississippi? The two are famously linked by geographic origin: the country South, time period: '50s to the present, and vocation: singing, songwriting jazzmen. The two also share timeless voices, full of Southern dry dust and humus. Jason Isbell wrote in "Outfit":

..."don't worry about losing your accent, a southern man tells better jokes."

And Dorough and Allison have taken that to heart for 60 years each. Dorough, the elder of the two, had a certain influence on Allison, who, at 85, has retired from performance. Dorough, now 89, shows little inclination to slow down, releasing Duets in support for the Celebration of the Arts (Delaware Water Gap Jazz Festival non- profit). Time has little diminished Dorough's faculties as he well demonstrates on these eleven original compositions. Bob Dorough is way more than his famous "Schoolhouse Rock."

Duets places Dorough in predictable and comfortable company. He sings his signature song, "Devil May Care" with the New York Voices, supplemented with Phil Woods' alto saxophone solo. The ensemble singing recalls the swing era as informed by be bop, swinging with a nosebleed momentum. Woods provided another solo on the breezy "Love Came On Stealthy Fingers" on which Heather Masse joins Dorough after coming into her on on her recent Lock My Heart (Red House, 2013). Dorough pushes the vocal envelope with Hammond B3 specialist Craig Lastelnik on "I'm Coming Home." He is in fine voice.

Dorough shares some clever vocalese with Manhattan Transfer's Janis Siegel on "Up Jumped A Bird" accented with Dave Liebman's looping soprano saxophone. Scat singing warfare breaks out demonstrating how the modern masters work. "Small Day Tomorrow" is the disc showstopper, featuring Vic Juris' dirty electric guitar while Dorough and Donna Antonow deliver the best duet on the disc. Dorough's Duets rings completely true in spirit, delivering a superb collection of his songs well played and sung. Bob Dorough is a treasure...our treasure.

Track Listing: Devil May Care; I’m Hip; I’ve Got Just About Everything I Need; Love Came On Stealthy Fingers; The Song Of the Mourning Dove; Comin’ Home Baby; Up Jumped A Bird; Small Day Tomorrow; I’m Waiting For Someone; Sunshine Morning; There’s Never Been A Day.

Personnel: Bob Dorough: vocals; Phil Markowitz: piano (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9); Eric Doney: piano (2, 10); Jesse Green: piano (6, 11); Bobby Avey: piano (7); Tony Marino: bass (1, 4); Paul Rostock: bass (2, 3, 7); Evan Gregor: bass (5, 8, 9, 10, 11); Bill Goodwin: drums (1, 3); Marko Marcinko: drums (2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10); Bill Washer: guitar (5, 6, 11); Spencer Reed: guitar (6); Vic Juris: guitar: (8, 10); Phil Woods: alto saxophone (1, 4); Aralee Dorough: flute (5); Rick Chamberlain: trombone (5, 8, 10); Danny Cahn: trumpet (8, 10); Tom Hamilton: tenor saxophone (8, 10); Nelson Hill: alto saxophone, flute (10); Jay Rattman: baritone saxophone (10); Dave Leibman: soprano saxophone (7). Ed Hudak: percussion (11). New York Voices: Darmon Meader, Peter Eldrige; Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan: vocals (1); Nellie McKay: vocals (2); JD Walker: vocals (3); Heather Masse,: vocals (4, 6); Val Hawk: vocals (5); Craig Lastelnik: Hammond B3, vocals (6); Janis Siegel: vocals (7); Donna Antonow: vocals (8); Grace Kelly: vocals (9); Vicki Doney: vocals (6, 10); Nancy Reed: vocals (11); June Thomas:vocals (4).


Midwest Record - 6/20/13

So, take a 90 year old original hipster that still has enough hair to pull it back into a pony tail, add some really great guest stars glad to be working out with him on his iconic songs, all star back up players that know and love these tunes, dust off some previously unreleased trunk tunes and do the whole thing for charity to support a local arts organization and what to go get? A great, heartfelt album that sounds like no expense was spared that's just too cool for almost any label to release. Sounding nothing like a last hurrah from a lion in winter, putting out vital, full blooded stuff like this could get Dorough's AARP card revoked. Must hearing for anyone that loved what they were doing at Arbors or the old Concord, this is a masterstroke of jazz vocal work that's sure to take on a life of it's own. Great stuff. 


Chris Spector - Midwest Record

Proceeds from Bob Dorough's CD DUETS to Benefit COTA

An incredible record for a wonderful cause! Don't miss Bob singing some of his most iconic songs on this beautifully produced record.
Bob Dorough Duets features eleven Dorough compositions with Bob singing each one with a different and remarkable artist.

Mr. Dorough, who will turn 90 at the end of 2013, shows no signs of slowing down, and his energy is apparent on every song.

The CD is a fundraising project for COTA*, the Celebration of The Arts Jazz Festival( which holds it's 36th festival this year in the Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania.

The festival also sponsors a jazz camp ( and youth big band, The COTA CATS, helping to foster young talent and keep jazz growing into the future.

The cd can only be purchased directly from the website because every single dollar goes to this wonderful organization.

Bob sings with the New York Voices, Nellie McKay, JD Walter, Heather Masse, Janis Siegel, Grace Kelly and others, on Devil May Care, I'm Hip, Comin' Home Baby, and more. The recording also features Phil Woods, David Liebman, Phil Markowitz and many other musicians from the COTA community.

*COTA's mission is "to present and support the art of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth, and to support and cultivate interest in art through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area."


Celebrating Bob Dorough and COTA by Thomas Cunniffe


The tiny hamlet of Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania lies in the Pocono Mountains approximately 75 miles west of New York City. It is the home of the Deer Head Inn, one of the East Coast’s finest jazz venues and it is also the headquarters of COTA, a jazz support organization now in its 36th year. COTA, which stands for Celebration of the Arts, is a multi-faceted group that offers year-round concerts, a jazz camp for students and an annual jazz festival. The camp has fostered the talents of several up and coming jazz musicians, and the festival brings in about 2000 listeners per day. The area has also attracted several prominent musicians, including Phil Woods and Bob Dorough, both of whom have lived in the area for years and are active members of the COTA family. To raise money for this worthy organization, Dorough has gathered several friends from the local
and national scenes to create “Duets”, a new CD available only online. The recording, made at Red Rocks Studio in Saylorsburg, PA, was funded through a grant, so all of the money raised through sales of the CD will go directly to COTA.

Dorough, who turns 90 in late 2013, chose only to sing on this album, leaving the piano duties to a rotating group of musicians, including Phil Markowitz, Eric Doney, Jesse Green and Bobby Avey. Bassists Tony Marino, Paul Rostock and Evan Gregor, and drummers Bill Goodwin, Marko Marchinko and Sherrie Maricle round out the solid rhythm teams, with guest appearances by guitarists Spencer Reed and Vic Juris, and saxophonists Phil Woods and Dave Liebman. But the stars of this show are the vocalists, starting with Dorough himself, whose quirky voice is still in very good shape except for a rather wide vibrato. All of the songs were composed or co-composed by Dorough, and he also wrote most of the arrangements. The duet format has become quite familiar over the past few decades, but Dorough and his friends enliven the old formulas as they create these sparkling recordings.

The opening track, “Devil May Care” features the New York Voices (is it really a duet when there are five voices?) and a splendid arrangement by Darmon Meader. The chart cleverly integrates the quartet, Dorough and Woods’ superb alto. There’s a great shout chorus—partially a cappella—and it’s wonderful to hear a new recording by the Voices. Nellie McKay is an alumnus of COTA’s jazz camp, and her collaboration with Dorough on “I’m Hip” is one of the album’s highlights. In addition to the fine chemistry between the voices (and a few new lyrics), McKay and Dorough bounce across the stereo soundscape with a cute bit of spoken banter. The vocal tones of JD Walter and Dorough are quite similar, and it takes some close listening to determine who is singing at any given time. Their version of “I’ve Got Just About Everything” starts with an extended rubato section which offers a fine contrast to the expected medium tempo groove.

Heather Masse recently recorded an album of standards with Dick Hyman. I wasn’t enchanted with her vocals on that CD, but here she sings a very convincing duet with Dorough on “Love Came on Stealthy Fingers”. With its extended verse and chromatic melody, it’s not an easy song to sing. Dorough has a few pitch issues on this track, but Masse’s cool intensity maintains the focus on the original melody. “The Song of the Mourning Dove” is set in a lounge style and opens with a James Bond-styled introduction. Val Hawk’s bright, airy voice works well in this context, but it seems to have less character than the other voices in this set. Craig Kastelnik doubles on vocals and Hammond B3 on “Comin’ Home, Baby”, and the combination of Kastelnik’s soulful voice and the tight funk groove produce a definitive performance. I’d never heard the jazz waltz “Up Jumped a Bird” before this recording, but Janis Siegel and Dorough do a marvelous interpretation of Dorough’s vocalese-styled lyric. And addition to a swinging soprano sax solo by Liebman, there’s a spirited scat exchange between the solo voices.

Donna Antonow’s sensual voice fits beautifully into the lazy groove of “Small Day Tomorrow”, and the addition of Juris’ blues guitar is the perfect addition to the arrangement. Alto saxophonist Grace Kelly sings and plays with great warmth on “I’m Waiting for Someone” and like Masse, I’m more impressed with her singing here than on her most recent album. A five-horn backup lends a big-band sound on the delightful “Sunshine Morning” which also features Vicki Doney as Dorough’s duet partner.  Like the duet with McKay, the pairing with Doney works well despite an obvious age gap between the singers. There’s also an age gap between Dorough and his final partner on the CD, Nancy Reed. However, it is the maturity in Reed’s voice that makes the collaboration on “There’s Never Been a Day” such an appropriate finale. Here, we can believe that Dorough and Reed are truly singing a love song to each other. Although all of the duets on this disc are superb, the added dimension of the lyrics on this track makes it extra special. With a retail price of $20, Bob Dorough’s “Duets” is a little more expensive than most CDs, but the music is superb, and it was all made for a good cause. Put this album at the top of your shopping list.


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