When it comes to music, bebop and cool jazz pianist, singer and composer Bob Dorough is nothing short of a legend. He’ll show why when his trio performs Back to… Schoolhouse Rocks! at the Iridium on Sunday, September 17, with sets at 5:00 and 7:30 pm.
From the moment he hit the New York jazz scene in the late 1940s, Dorough was off and running, jamming and gigging with the best in the business. He quickly became known as a master of bebop, and a pioneer in creative scat and vocalese, inspired by Babs Gonzales, and in turn, inspiring top jazz singers such as Mark Murphy, Mose Allison and Kurt Elling. This musician’s musician, grounded in the big band era, has also written swing-influenced tunes, such as “Devil May Care” and “Nothing Like You,” now fixtures among the standards of the Great American Songbook. In 1956 Dorough recorded his first album as a leader, Devil May Care, with its title track of the same name. The album also contained a tribute to the recently deceased bebop icon, Charlie Parker, with Dorough adding lyrics to Birds’ “Yardbird Suite.”
Dorough is also known for his association with Blossom Dearie, and for being the only vocalist to record with bebop trumpeter and legend Miles Davis. Davis sought out Dorough to write lyrics for, and perform, “Blue Xmas” on a 1962 Christmas album. At the same time Dorough also recorded “Nothing Like You” for Davis, which the trumpeter included on his 1967 album, Sorcerer. Dorough may be best known as the composer and performer of songs for Schoolhouse Rock!, a long-running animated series televised on Saturday mornings from 1973 to 1985, and again for five years in the 1990s. Literally thousands of kids learned math, grammar, economics, civics and much more from tunes such as “Three Is a Magic Number” and “Conjunction Junction.” More than anything, though, is Dorough’s love of performing, to which his sell-out audiences will attest. Bob Dorough appears at the Iridium with his long-time sidemen, Steve Berger on guitar and vocals, and Paul Rostock on bass.