I needn't remind readers in this forum that Duke Robillard is world-respected for his acumen and old school fidelities. This disc takes those traits by the hand and sets them to spinning in a hopping lounge spotlight with smoky midnight streets and hazy moonlights intact. Swingin' Session has the period authenticity Dr. John and Leon Redbone capture so well, and, while I'm not always thrilled with his singing voice, Robillard's playing and arrangements nail the old Blue Note days when jazz and blues were undergoing a prime-period evocation bringing genesis points into the modern world. As such, they possess both antiquity and an eternal freshness, a difficult combination to top. Robillard doesn't hurry himself even as he swings (catch his solo in The Lonesome Road), cherishing inflection and tone over showmanship.
Everything comes together in his take on Ray Charles' Them That Gets, where Duke's vocals enter Cab Calloway and Louis Prima territory, perfectly pitched for the funkily liquid mood of the cut. The band slows the swing down here to a lazy sassy bop tempo, marrying two modes with more in common than many recognize. Robillard's constant companion is Bruce Katz on organ, and the guy knows how to ramp up both background and fore. There's no lack of seductive horns putting the tie and spats on the proceedings, and the dates are exactly as promised: swingin' even when not jumpin'. Start with the long and extremely satisfying instrumental Red Dog and go wherever you want from there, 'cause this disc is wide open. With 20+ releases to his credit, I don't know if Robillard's cut a strictly non-vocal gig, but he should. He was made for it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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