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Plays Mac Rebennack (The Legendary Sessions, Vol. 1)

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iTunes Review

Dr. John’s trademark is his singing voice, a supple, jazzy croak — but there's no singing on this album. And yet Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack lacks nothing. That Dr. John can say everything he needs to say on a piano tells you everything you need to know about the magnitude of his talent. This 1981 session brings the Doctor back to his early days, when he played keyboards as a studio musician in New Orleans and Los Angeles. What you have here is the sound of someone totally at ease with his instrument. Everything that people love about Dr. John’s music is present in these piano solos — his sincerity and his elegance, his sense of jazz and his feel for funk. These tunes hearken to every corner of the New Orleans piano tradition, echoing Jelly Roll Morton, Allen Toussaint and everything between. Even though there is nothing staid about these recordings, they seem to come from an ancient time — this could be the soundtrack to an 1800s brothel, or a 1930s honky-tonk. For all the tricks and frills of his best work, this is the essence of Dr. John — eternal, ingenious piano man entertainment.

Customer Reviews

The best of New Orleans

This is a great album. The tracks are very well recorded, and the good doctor goes through a nice list of songs. Memories of Professor Longhair is a true classic expanding on fess' Tipitina, while Dorothy and Careless love are New Orleans classics. I love this album. I first heard it on "Piano Saturday" on Radio-Free New Orleans before katrina....

Can't go wrong with this one

If you are a fan of solo piano jazz, this is one of the best in my collection. Not as sophisticated as Oscar Peterson or as far out as Paul Bley, this is an album to just put on and let it run. It's exceptionally engaging, perfect background music to dinner or a small party, yet light enough to put on before bed while you read. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.


For a man that began as a guitar player, he certainly came a long way on the piano. I was looking for something to complement Chuck Leavell's Forever Blue, and this album is the perfect match. 10 out of 10.


Born: November 21, 1940 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although he didn't become widely known until the 1970s, Dr. John had been active in the music industry since the late '50s, when the teenager was still known as Mac Rebennack. A formidable boogie and blues pianist with a lovable growl of a voice, his most enduring achievements fused with New Orleans R&B, rock, and Mardi Gras craziness to come up with his own brand of "voodoo" music. He's also quite accomplished and enjoyable when sticking to purely traditional forms of blues and R&B. On record, he...
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