Duke Robillard

Plays Jazz: The Rounder Years

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This disc is the companion to Duke Robillard Plays Blues, another anthology of tracks recorded for Rounder's Bullseye Blues subsidiary. Of the two discs, this one is definitely the most fun. That's mainly because when Duke Robillard says "jazz" he means it more in the Louis Jordan sense than the Duke Jordan sense. The uptempo numbers are that sort of jump blues, proto-R&B-type thing that Joe Jackson went for on his Jumpin' Jive album -- you keep expecting to hear Cab Calloway chime in on the choruses.

"Shivers," "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Shufflin' with Some Barbeque" are the best examples of Duke's affectionate retroactivity; he throws off elegant and speedy guitar runs with giddy abandon, and his band positively cooks. The cool urbanity of a song like "I'll Never Be the Same" calls for a bit more voice than Duke has to offer, but to his credit, he doesn't try to gussy it up; but that makes him honest, not fun to listen to.

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