Dr. John

Mercenary: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (Blue Note)

Dr. John, AKA Mac Rebenack, has undergone a number of incarnations in a career that spans nearly 50 years, from the acid-tinged voodoo of his Night Tripper persona to his role as one of New Orleans' most revered champions of American musical tradition. After several outstanding albums elaborating on the basics of the blues and R&B, Mercenarystands out as yet another able accomplishment, not to mention one of his most engaging. In covering several familiar selections from composer Johnny Mercer's indelible catalog, Rebenack has successfully redefined them in his own inimitable way. Consequently, "Beautiful Baby" and "Moon River" are transformed from wistful reflection to an upbeat soulful shuffle. "Old Cow Hand" goes from novelty to nuance via a masterful jazz-infused jam. "Ol' Black Magic" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" are the epitome of sultry style, with Rebenack's trademark ragged, warbling vocals providing his own emotional connection.

 
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