Before you even throw Tom McDermott's Bamboula on, you have to first read the liner notes by no less peculiar a gent than Van Dyke Parks. In terse almost surreal-DaDa terms, he lays out the oncoming music in precisely the language it needs and deserves. Once you're done with his strangely mannered collage of truncated images and references, you'll find your brainpan salivating and ready for the energetic readings of McDermott on his own and a few others' pieces, executed with brisk aplomb and compositional verve perfectly capturing a New Orleans fiesta-time atmosphere while forcing the listener to sit down and really listen. To risk the risquéé for a moment, when comedian-musician Harry Shearer hears this CD, he's gonna shit in his hat, 'cause Bamboula is right up his alley.
McDermott possesses not only magical fingers but a sorcerous mind as well. Every cut here is a marvel reeking with uproarious Cajun and Creole delta antics, Mardi Gras wide-eyed craziness, Prof. Longhair serious cut-up-ery, atmospheric post-antebellum brick streets and speakeasies, and the sort of time gone by that Randy Newman, Leon Redbone, Ian Whitcomb, and indeed Van Dyke Parks have perennially kept alive in latter days, thank all the gods and goddesses. McDermott's choice of sidemen is exquisite, as each indites lines glowing and capering over, beside, and below his keyboards.
Some of my favoritest cult albums have been the aforementioned Whitcomb's, and it's always been a damn shame he didn't attain to FAR greater heights than his novelty hit of '65 (You Turn Me On) and many independently released later releases (44 of'em!), but there has been a too spare roster of individuals who have kept the garden populated, and McDermott's one of them. As far as I can determine, this is his solo debut, having served quite some time as a leader and sideman elsewhere, and it couldn't have come a moment too soon. Though there are pensive wistful ballads present, the bulk of Bamboula is pure fun but simultaneously so cerebral in so many ways that one never knows whether to get up and shout for joy or pore over the sheet music, trying to figure out just how the hell he does it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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