On Mercernary the good doctor, Mac Rebennack, performs a Voodoo mass on the music of Johnny Mercer, casting it in the gris-gris patois of his native New Orleans. This union of standards and Creole is a contentious one, showing that one cannot force a square peg into a round hole. "Blues in the Night, "I'm an Old Cowhand, and "Lazybones all sound miscast on this recording. The funk infusion given Mercer's music smothers the delicate melodies.
Dr. John has already proven he is a master of the straight (or almost straight) standard on recordings like In a Sentimental Mood (Warner Bros., 1989) and Afterglow (Blue Thumb, 1995). Mercernary has much in common with Duke Elegant (Blue Note, 2000), where Dr. John doffs his beret to Edward Kennedy Ellington and transforms the Duke's canon into his own Creole languageagain, with mixed results.
In spite of this, fans of Dr. John will find this recording enjoyable because of his irrepressible creativity and swing. Dr. John could very well be the inheritor of the Ray Charles poly-musical mantle, though he may have to fight Van Morrison for it.
Blues In The Night; You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby; Personally; Hit The Road To Dreamland; I
Dr. John: Vocals, Piano; John Fohl: Guitar, Backing Vocals; David Barard: Bass, Backing Vocals; Herman Ernest, III: Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals; Herbert Hardisty, James Rivers, Eric Traub: Tenor Saxophone; Alonzo Bowen: Trombone Saxophone; Charlie Miller: Trumpet; Steve Simon: Percussion.
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