Loaded with songs for the average guy or gal, Bob Dorough’s newest jazz album takes its name from an item we can all relate to readily. Hopefully, that particular medium constitutes only a minor role in our childhood reading development: the comic book. Too Much Coffee Man is the name of a comic book character. There’s a web site at www.tmcm.com
. Dorough had written a jingle for Too Much Coffee Man’s creator, intended to serve as music for an animated television series. In a telephone conversation from his home in Eastern Pennsylvania last month, Dorough said, "He loved the jingle, so when I started my second Blue Note album, I told him that I’d be expanding that jingle into a full-length song. And he’s doing the artwork for the album’s cover." Too Much Coffee Man
is due to be released early next month. Compared to his last album Right On My Way Home
, Dorough says, "This one is more of a songbook, since most of the songs are my own. Some have a blues appeal. I’ve added an old Cootie Williams jazz song called "Fish for Supper." "Marilyn, Queen of Lies" is a re-recording from my first album. I wrote that one with Ann Landisman." Dorough’s first album, Devil May Care
was recorded in 1956 and is the same one that a few years later caught the ear of Miles Davis.
Articulating the lyrics in his usual crisp fashion, Dorough tells stories while ensuring that he’s supported musically. Long overlooked, Dorough’s piano playing makes a world of difference supporting his songs alongside bass and drums. The trio works out for much of the album, but some songs are backed by an expanded ensemble, adding guitar, alto saxophone, brass and/or percussion. "The Coffee Song" (They’ve Got A Lot Of Coffee in Brazil) takes on a big band sound with Phil Woods in the featured spotlight. He and Dorough work hand in glove for the four tracks on which Woods appears, and both share a bright and positive aura throughout. The title track - a funky, jive number with two guitars, electric bass and organ – may be aimed at a younger audience, but its wigged-out attitude is one to which we can all relate. Dave Frishberg’s down home country lesson "Oklahoma Toad" serves to remind us that you have to get out once in a while and do some real work if you expect to see your next meal on time. Like Schoolhouse Rock, "Wake Up Sally, It’s Saturday" bounces with a deep tuba and rhythmic ride cymbal on what is clearly a jazz tune – timeless and comfortable. Dorough’s piano interlude stands out and the piece serves to remind us that Saturday morning is a time to be at ease. Jamey Haddad’s extended drum solo punctuates Dorough’s romantic and positive "I’ve Got Just About Everything," to emphasize Joe Cohn’s guitar solo and Woods’ upbeat alto solo. Drawing from many styles, Too Much Coffee Man blends the exotic world beat feeling of "Marilyn, Queen of Lies," with the supple Brazilian rhythm of "The Coffee Song," and the romantic tango overtones of "Love." The album’s closing piece, a sweeping waltz, includes a vocal trio harmonizing with Dorough, offering wishes for a better world, without war, without intolerance, and without hate. There’s enough in this world to make us sad. Bob Dorough makes you feel good.