Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans
Reviewed by Robert Gabriel, Fri., Dec. 10, 2004
Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans(Shout! Factory)
The swampy bog known as New Orleans has produced some of the most distinct musical styles known to man. Beginning with the Dixieland jazz of Jelly Roll Morton ("I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say"), Kid Ory ("Royal Garden Blues"), and Louis Armstrong ("Potato Head Blues"), the Crescent City has balanced the diverse cultural influence docking at the Caribbean's northernmost port. As French, Spanish, African, and Native American ingredients stew together in the proverbial Monday-evening cooking pot, New Orleans musicians demonstrate exactly what it means to be Creole and proud of it. Ideally exhibited by the saucy overtones of Dave Bartholomew's "Shrimp and Gumbo," the accented swing of Professor Longhair's "Tipitina," and the down-home flair of the Meters' "Hey Pocky Way," fusion simmered into a rich concoction known throughout the bayou as roux. With its first whiffs of raunchy rock & roll, Lloyd Price ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy"), Shirley & Lee ("Let the Good Times Roll"), and Fats Domino ("I'm Walkin'"), NOLA traditions leave a lasting impression on anyone within earshot. With functionality overriding mere artistic ambition, parade classics like the Hawketts' "Mardi Gras Mambo" and Al Johnson's "Carnival Time" saturate already-muddy streets with an air of eternal lagniappe, "an extra or unexpected gift or benefit." Whether it's Frankie Ford putting flamboyant emphasis on the catcalls of "Sea Cruise," Aaron Neville reaching directly for the pit of your heart on "Tell It Like It Is," or Allen Toussaint utilizing studio ingenuity to define "Southern Nights," the rewards are blatantly obvious. The invigorating spirit of the second line, dating back to Congo Square and championed by Black Indian troupes, gets the revival treatment by the likes of the Rebirth Brass Band ("Feel Like Funkin' It Up") and "Big Chief" Monk Boudreaux ("Meet the Boys on the Battlefront"). Intermingling with the Big Easy's urban orientation, rural Cajuns of South Louisiana offer heapings of zydeco, expressed through the works of Clifton Chenier ("Jambalaya"), Beausoleil ("Zydeco Gris-Gris"), and Beau Jocque ("Give Him Cornbread"). Right chea, right chau, and everywhere in between, Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens incorporates a 4-CD, 87-song set, with 77 pages of liner notes, to characterize New Orleans as a city that lives and breathes music.