When But For Now first landed in 2015, it was a reminder of the good-natured brilliance behind the artistry of one of America's greatest living treasures. But with Bob Dorough's passing in April of 2018, the album's second coming plays more like a parting gift.
Recorded in 2014, when Dorough was already a spry nonagenarian, this drummer-less trio date emphasizes his craggy cool. Right from the start, on an attractive "Baltimore Oriole," he matches those beloved pitted pipes with his own sympathetic piano work that's both nonchalant and perfectly in character. At the same time, bassist Tony Marino bolsters the bluesy sentiments from below while Michael Hornstein's alto saxophone traces lines around the vocals and takes to the spotlight for a brief spell. These three-and-a-half minutes act as an encapsulation of what this program is all about.
Familiar fare fills the entire album, but Dorough always manages to make each tune his own. Whether we're talking about the exaggerated vocal phrasing and energetic delivery fueling "The Girl From Ipanema," the old-soul extensions on a known formula that elevate "Georgia On My Mind," or the shrewd decision to set off sans bass and piano on "Body And Soul," there's always a surprise or two to pair with the expected. Sadly, only one Dorough original makes it onto the playlistthe title track, penned for his second wife during the wooing phasebut that single serving is indicative of the care and intelligence that went into his every work. Here, he imbues the song's foretelling lyrics with something from the other side of timethe clear knowledge of his own past.
A number of these chestnuts call to earlier years and prove self-referential for Doroughhe played "Harlem Nocturne" in the New York strip clubs of yesteryear, Johnny Mandel eagerly introduced him to "The Shadow Of Your Smile" when the ink was barely drybut all remain universal in their appeal. His signature wit and everyman charms see to it that this music is at once his to own and the world's to appreciate.
Baltimore Oriole; The Girl From Ipanema; Stars Fell On Alabama; The Shadow Of Your Smile; But For Now; Indian Summer; Better
Than Anything; Harlem Nocturne; Prelude To A Kiss; Georgia On My Mind; Body And Soul; Take Five.
Bob Dorough: vocals, piano; Michael Hornstein: alto saxophone; Tony Marino: bass.