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A Lost Treasure from the Legendary Dr. John - ‘Big Band Voodoo' Captures Mac with the WDR Big Band, Recorded in Germany in 1995; Long-Time Friend and Manager Stanley Chaisson Unearths a Gem, One of the Most Interesting Yet Unreleased Sessions from D
(Published: October 10, 2019)

For Immediate Release 
October 10, 2019

A Lost Treasure from the Legendary Dr. John - ‘Big Band Voodoo' Captures Mac with the WDR Big Band, Recorded in Germany in 1995

Long-Time Friend and Manager Stanley Chaisson Unearths a Gem, One of the Most Interesting Yet Unreleased Sessions from Dr. John's Repertoire

Dr. John was a larger than life character on the music scene. From his distinctive sound to his iconic look to his memorable stage performances, Dr. John embodied New Orleans, even as he blurred the lines between R&B, rock, blues, funk, boogie-woogie, and now, big band jazz.  On his upcoming album, ‘Big Band Voodoo', out 11/1 on Orange Music, Mac's long-time friend and manager Stanley Chaisson has captured a moment in time, and we are all the better for it.

Recorded in 1995 with Germany's WDR Big Band, the upcoming album features 16 tracks, and Dr. John arguably has never sounded better. His vocals are crisp and clear and joyful, as if he turned back the clock to another time and to a jubilant state of mind.

Chaisson comments, "I appreciate the way Mac translated his Voodoo syncopation and vocal phrasing and merged them with the WDR Big Band. To me, it's one of the best pairings of Jazz, Blues and Swing on a recording that was ever done. It shows his ability to adapt, perform and interpret music and deliver his part, with one of the best Big Bands in the world. I am just so grateful to be a part of such an excellent piece of music."

‘Big Band Voodoo' is a unique take on the music of Dr. John, as he'd never released a big band record quite like this one during his lifetime/career. What we have now is the chance to hear an important piece of music history. Highlights include "I'm Just a Lucky So and So', ‘Blue Skies', ‘New York City Blues', ‘Tell Me You'll Wait For Me' and many more. Mac's vocals are the unexpectedly perfect complement to the big brass sound of the WDR band. Some moments feel as if you've stepped out of Rat Pack performance in Vegas -- it's an invigorating, thrilling listen.

Chaisson recalls a chat with Dr. John that set things in motion: "'Big Band Voodoo' comes from an evening of discussing new projects with Mac at his Brownstone in New York. He and I were discussing the possibility of making a Jazz record. He says "ya know dis would be dat thing I was always using my head for...a Big Band thing with my New Orleans riffs."

Mike Donohue of Amplified Distribution is working with Chaisson to help spread the word about this special album. He describes how the recordings were rediscovered:
"Dr. John and the WDR Big Band's "Big Band Voodoo" album comes from his 1995 visit to Germany, during an International tour thru the UK, Germany, Japan, etc. During this tour, numerous important musicians approached Dr. John for a "session". Many of these professionals had never seen Mac perform live but were huge fans. While in Germany, Dr. John was offered the opportunity to play and record at the WDR band's Cologne studio. What transpired in that studio is one of the most interesting yet unreleased sessions from Dr. John's repertoire:
The addition of full Brass and Big Band Arrangements to Dr. John's unique and distinct singing and playing style melded into a hybrid sound. One minute it's a Sinatra feel of swinging big band and the next is the distinctive ivory tickling and New Orleans-influenced playing of Mac Rebennack. With over 60 minutes of studio-recorded songs, this unique slice of history is now ready for the world to hear. It's Dr. John like never before."

"In the hustle of touring while in Europe when this recording happened, these tapes were stored away. Once everyone returned for more touring in the U.S., these tapes were set aside for later use and archived, and forgotten about. As Mac became more ill, Stanley would reminisce with Mac about the good old days. It was when Stanley remembered the session and was able to surface the recording that we now have this lost treasure."

Dr. John passed away on June 6, 2019, at the age of 77. Wikipedia biography is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._John

Mac's beloved friend and manager Stanley Chaisson shares these further personal recollections:
"DRx John Malcolm John Rebennack born November 20, 1941, died June 6th, 2019. I've been a friend and worked with Mac for over 50 years. He was a very easygoing loyal friend. I saw him grow into one of the greatest musicians of the world. He was taught guitar by two of Fats Domino's guitar players at the age of 9. Learned piano from another New Orleans great, James Booker. Mac ran sessions at Cosmo's recording studios from age of 17, recording and playing piano for artist such as Little Richard, Sam Cook, Lloyd Price, Frankie Ford and Barbara Lynn. Got into a little trouble, served some time and decided to follow Harold Batiste out to California. After arriving, he began to play sessions for Sonny & Cher, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Johnny Rivers, Natalie Cole, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the hit maker rhythm section known as The Wrecking Crew. Shortly after that, he tossed around with Harold Batiste the idea of recording as DRx JOHN. His first effort, the Gris-Gris Lp was a big success. He received six Grammys & induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. He played in numerous movies, did over 30 national and international commercials. His Jazz introduction was accepted and in demand, earning him respect from the top Jazz Musicians...DRx John received a Jazz Grammy for Best Jazz Duo with Ricky Lee Jones from the In A Sentimental Mood LP. He then charted with his tribute to Duke Ellington and then charted again with DRx John's Bluesiana Triangle with Fat Head Newman and the great Art Blakely, of which DRx John wrote over ½ of the LP. Mac and I had discussed recording a Big Band Jazz project, and around that time we were contacted by our agent to do a European tour. I did my homework and discovered the WDR Big Band. The WDR Band was available while we were in Germany, so we scheduled the session. The good doctor hooked up with John Clayton as arranger, and in August of 1995 we recorded in Cologne Germany at the WDR Studios. As a Producer/Manager, I can say the DRx John & The WDR Big Band Voodoo release is a masterful set with Mac's vocals and Jazz phrasing, along with extraordinary musicianship from the WDR Big Band. Thank you Mac, I know you're smiling, and thank you for this wonderful performance. Rest in Peace my friend. Sincerely, Stanley Chaisson Orange Music Records LLc CEO"

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