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Bob Dorough (1923-2018)

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Bob Dorough, who began his jazz career in the early 1950s as a pianist and arranger and expanded to singing and songwriting laced with sardonic wit and puns, died on April 23. He was 94.

Dorough in the late 1950s was part of an ever-expanding group of clever writers who wound up in comedy, television and advertising. Steeped in jazz, either as players or aficionados, and deft with words and dry observational humor, this generation of pithy writers included Dave Frishberg (Dorough's frequent songwriting partner), Fran Landesman, Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, Allan Sherman and Mose Allison. In fact, Dorough may have had the most in common with Allison. Both had Southern backgrounds; both picked cotton; both sang with a hushed, knowing delivery; and both wrote songs that tweaked the absurdity of everyday life with lyrics that fit together like a shuffled deck of cards.

Among Dorough's best-known songs are Devil May Care, I'm Hip (with lyrics by Frishberg), Blue Xmas, You're the Dangerous Type, I've Got Just About Everything, Comin' Home Baby and songs for his Schoolhouse Rock! series of songs that helped children remember the rules of math and grammar.

The tick-tock of Dorough's career can be found  here and elsewhere. Instead, I'd rather share my favorite tracks illustrating Dorough's gifts as a pianist-arranger and singer-songwriter:

Here's Dorough arrangement of I Hear a Rhapsody from The Sam Most Quartet + 2 in 1953...

Here's Almost Like Being in Love, featuring Dorough with bassist Buddy Banks, flutist Bobby Jaspar and guitarist Jimmy Gourley in Paris in 1954...



Here's Sam Most and Dorough on Obvious Conclusion from Musically Yours in 1956...

Here's Dorough's arrangement of Love Is Just Around the Corner for singer Betty Blake in 1960, with Dorough on piano...



Here's Dorough singing Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice It's Alright in 1966...



And here's Dorough with Miles Davis on his song Nothing Like You Has Even Been Seen Before in 1962...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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