Digitally remastered two CD set containing a pair of albums from iconic New Orleans singer/songwriter Mac Rebennack AKA Dr. John. By the end of the '90s, Dr John was again embracing the mysterious bubbling gumbo of his Gris-Gris era, which was music to the ears of a generation of younger British musicians such as Paul Weller, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass and Jason Pierce of Spiritualized. While Pierce is credited with producing two tracks here, the lion's share of ANUTHA ZONE was helmed by UK producer legend John Leckie. Although much of the album was recorded in New York in 1998, six tracks were recorded at Abbey Road, with guest appearances from the UK stars above. The following year saw Dr John pay his respects to the music of Duke Ellington - like he says: 'Doesn't sound like these tunes were written by a hundred year-old cat, but they were. You want to know the ticket to immortality, write a bunch of tunes that people keep on singin' and playin'. The package includes 24 page booklet is fully annotated by Paul Myers.
The portrait of John Bull on the cover of this two-CD U.S. release gives an idea for the uninitiated of what to expect from the composer's music: it's intense, single-minded, and even a bit demonic (although the hourglass topped with a skull with a bone in its mouth is apparently an alchemical symbol). Bull was, in the words of an unidentified writer quoted by harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, "the Liszt of the virginals." The most immediately apparent feature of his music is extreme virtuosity, on display especially in the mind-boggling set of variations entitled Walsingham (CD 1, track 8) and in the galliards of the pavan-galliard pairs. But the opposite pole in Bull's style exerts just as strong a pull: he is fascinated by strict polyphony by what would be called harmonic progressions, and by the close study of the implications contained within small musical units. As spectacular in their way as the keyboard fireworks are, the three separate settings of a tune called Why Ask You? on CD 2 are marvelous explorations of compressed musical gestures.
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 veers between the two approaches, making for an inconsistent and frequently frustrating legacy that often makes the listener feel as if "the Night Tripper" (as he's nicknamed himself) has been underachieving.
Over his 35 years of recording, Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack has worn many hats, from '50s greasy rock & roller to psychedelic '70s weirdo to keeper of the New Orleans music flame. All of these modes, plus more, are excellently served up on this two-disc anthology…
On this informative and fascinating lesson, Mac (Dr. John) Rebennack discusses the playing styles of the musicians he heard and worked with as a youngster growing up in New Orleans. You’ll learn songs and instrumentals by such legendary greats as Professor Longhair, Pine Top Smith, Champion Jack Dupree, Fats Domino, James Booker and others. Mac breaks down the tunes, turnarounds, left-hand patterns, and right-hand improvisations so that an aspiring pianist can truly understand this exciting tradition.
We are very excited and honored to be able to offer a DVD by one of America's most important and distinctive musical voices. In a far ranging conversation with noted record producer and Saturday Night Live musical director Hal Willner, Mac Rebennack (a.k.a. Dr John) performs his remarkable music, discusses his influences, and shares early musical memories and intriguing stories of a life in the music business.