406

Dr. John and The Lower 911: Tribal

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Dr. John and The Lower 911: Tribal
With hindsight, keyboards player and vocalist Mac Rebennack's return to his "Dr. John, The Night Tripper" oeuvre might have been foreseen before the recording of Tribal, when in 2006 he once more donned the full-blown voodoo regalia for his appearance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. But then Katrina came along and Rebennack's attentions became focused on a more pressing concern, the rescue of his hometown, New Orleans. The Grammy award-winning ("Best Contemporary Blues Album") City That Care Forgot (Cooking Vinyl, 2008) was the result.

It's not that the albums which followed Gris-gris (Atco, 1968) have been lacking in any way, but anyone who can remember that album's unveiling of the Night Tripper persona—and if Rebennack can remember the '60s, anyone can—likely wanted more in the same vein, every now and then at least. Gris-gris' mystic swamp vibe was repeated on its immediate follow ups—Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970) and Sun, Moon and Herbs (1971), all on Atco—but the weirder magic was waning, and with the Allen Toussaint-produced In The Right Place (Atco, 1973), which spawned the Top 10 single "Right Time, Wrong Place," Rebennack's music, still as funky as a donkey's butt, became more focused, less discursive.

Tribal isn't an exact return to Gris-gris, but it often gets delightfully close. Seven of the 16 tracks—"Feel Good Music," "Jinky Jinx," "Sleepin' In My Bed," "Manoovas," "Scroungin'" and sections of "Tribal"—could almost have been made back in the day; the other nine are infused with enough of the same spirit to keep them close to the mothership.

Along the way, there are some magnificent horn arrangements, by tenor saxophonist Alonzo Bowens, and matching solos, most memorably from trombonist Mark Mullins on "Them," alto saxophonist Donald Harrison on "Music Came" and "A Place In The Sun," and slide guitarist Derek Trucks on "Manoovas." There's a string quartet on "Lissen At Our Prayer," arranged by Wardell Quezergue, and, throughout, the badass Lower 911 quartet: Herman "Roscoe" Ernest III, drums; David Barard: bass; John Fohl: guitar; Kenneth "Afro" Williams: percussion.

Rebennack wrote or co-wrote 13 tracks, Toussaint two ("Big Gap," "Them"), and Harold Battiste one ("Music Came"). Louisiana singer/songwriter Bobby Charles, Rebennack's contemporary and fellow traveller, collaborated with him on "Change Of Heart," "Tribal" and "Potnah." Charles died in January 2010, and Rebennack has dedicated Tribal to him. Lyric concerns range through the spirit world, New Orleans' continuing plight, wider environmental and economic issues, and love, carnal and otherwise.

But enough stats and facts. Right now, this doctorated portion of dirty audio rice demands to be played again.

Track Listing

Feel Good Music; Lissen at Our Prayer; Big Gap; Change of Heart; When I'm Right (I'm Wrong); Jinky Jin; Manoovas; Tribal; Music Came; Them; Only in Amerika; Whut's Wit Dat; Potnah; A Place in the Sun.

Personnel

Dr. John: organ, piano, vocals; Herman V. Ernest III: percussion, drums, vocals; John Fohl: guitar, vocals; Kenneth "Afro" Williams: percussion, vocals; David Barard: bass, vocals; Derek Trucks; guitar; Charlie Miller: trumpet; Donald Harrison: sax; Marcel Richardson: organ, piano; Natalia Casante: violin; Helen Gillet: cello; Harry Hardin: violin; Lauren Lemmler: viola; Carl Blouin: sax; Alonzo Bowens: sax; Erica Falls: vocals; Elaine Foster: vocals; Lisa Foster: vocals; Charla Herman: chant; Lulu Siker: chant.

Album information

Title: Tribal | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Florida Rays
Florida Rays
Flying Horse Big Band
Read Keep On Turnin'
Keep On Turnin'
Stefan Braun & Mateusz Smoczynski
Read Out Of and Into
Out Of and Into
Joel Newton Situation
Read Future Stride
Future Stride
Emmet Cohen
Read Sarabande Blue
Sarabande Blue
Zvonimir Tot's Jazz Stringtet
Read The Dancer on the Hill
The Dancer on the Hill
Steffen Basho-Junghans

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.