Cherry Hill Township is located in Perry County about 50 miles west of Little Rock. Cherry Hill is also the birthplace of singer Bob Dorough, born December 12, 1923. Dorough left Arkansas soon after, his family moving to Texas, where he would begin his musical education that, 70 years later would bring him to Eulalia
, his follow-up to last year's Duets
(Self Produced). While Dorough's music smacks of East Coast sophistication, his voice retains the rural grace of his home state. Dorough's voice is like that of the Broadway lyricist singing his or her own song: it is not beautiful or even pretty. It is honest and authentic and humble.
Recorded in 2011, Eulalia
is a collection of new Dorough compositions that are as timeless as the singer himself. "Love (Webster's Dictionary)" recalls Dorough's major part in 30 years of Schoolhouse rock!
. His piano playing, while uniquely his, seems as informed by Horace Silver
as it is by Red Garland
. There is a showtune quality to Dorough compositions, and this quality is well on display here. All of the tunes have a familiar sound but are beyond the simple pale of "I Got Rhythm." "Whatever happened to Love Longs" is a ballad that features sophisticated Dorough chord progression and his broadest singing range. That voice again. Dan Bilawsky
called Dorough's voice one ..." that's really an acquired taste, but it's a taste worth acquiring." It does grow on you and it is as genuine as the Fourth of July.
"But For Now" with its descending harmonic figure and moderate tempo recalls Dorough's first great composition, "Devil May Care." This is music of unusual quality. "To Be of Not To Bop" is based on a complex head and recalls the singer's famous treatment of Charlie Parker
's "Yardbird Suite." Houston's own Dennis Dotson
provides a tart trumpet interlude accented with Dorough's well-considered piano support. The disc is bookended by two performances of Dorough's original instrumental "Eulalia," featuring the singer's daughter on flute in a timeless Latin pastoral, delicate yet durable. Dorough is rare avis among jazz musicians, sharing space with only Dave Frishberg
and Mose Allison
. Who is stepping up to eventually fill these larges shoes? Can they be filled? Should they?
Personnel: Bob Dorough: piano, vocals, arrangements; Steve Gilmore: acoustic
Matthews: drums; Phil Woods: alto saxophone; Aralee Dorough: flute;
trumpet; Thomas Hulten: trombone, tuba; Warren Sneed: tenor saxophone,
saxophone; Keith Vivens: electric bass (3, 7); Ray Wilson: guitar;
vibraphone, pandeiro (2); Gary Mitchell, Jr.: choirmaster, vocals,
Hammond B3 (7);
Tammie Bradley: vocals (7).