Can a guy with a raspy sort of voice, a quirky stage manner and an offbeat sense of humor also be a first-rate jazz singer? He can if he's Bob Dorough.
On Tuesday night at the Jazz Bakery, the veteran jazz pianist gave an object demonstration in his own unique, utterly idiosyncratic style of jazz singing. It was, from start to finish, a constantly entertaining set of music, informed by his lengthy jazz history (he is 74), but bristling with youthful animation.
In a far-ranging set of songs, Dorough pulled the full-house, responsive audience into his music with a casually relaxed manner, easily generating the feeling that his enthusiastic listeners were sharing an evening of music in his living room. Almost every song was introduced with a humorous anecdote or a whimsical throw-away line, almost always reflecting, in completely unaffected fashion, Dorough's ineffable sense of hipness--a kind of charming, world-weariness tinged with an inexhaustible optimism.
He sang a number of songs from his new Blue Note album, "Right on My Way Home," as well as several apparently unplanned tunes with bird references. Hoagy Carmichael's "Baltimore Oriole," a short tune with a tricky lyric received a definitive rendering, the sly imagery of its lyrics crystal clear. " 'Tis Autumn," another song with bird characterizations, gave Dorough the opportunity to add some scat lines, and the driving vocalese he brought to Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite" underscored his solid jazz credentials.