An Excursion Through Oliver: Songs From The Hit Show - Bob Dorough

Oliver, a musical based on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, became a hit British play in 1960, having 2,618 performances. It also did well on Broadway during 1963-64, where it had 774 performances, and was filmed in 1968. The adventure story, set in 1800's England and full of rich characters, still communicates well to today's audiences and has been revived in recent times. Back in 1964, pianist Bob Dorough recorded the first jazz adaptation of the music from Oliver. Dorough is best known as a witty lyricist, composer, pianist and singer who often sings his own songs which include"Devil May Care," "Nothing Like You," the Mel Torme hit "Comin' Home Baby," "I'm Hip" (co-written with Dave Frishberg) and "I've Got Just About Everything." However the Bob Dorough heard on Oliver is strictly a jazz pianist, leading a quartet also including guitarist Al Schackman, bassist Ben Tucker and drummer Bobby Thomas.

He was born in 1923 in Arkansas, growing up in Texas. Although he played clarinet in his high school band, Dorough's main instrument was the piano. He spent three years during World War II. in the Army, mostly working as an entertainer in a Special Services unit. After his discharge, he earned a music degree from the University of North Texas and by 1952 he was a part of the New York jazz scene, working in a variety of settings. His debut recording as a leader in 1956 introduced "Devil May Care" and gave him some recognition although he would be mostly an underground hero for many years. Dorough only recorded infrequently during the next two decades (including two songs with Miles Davis in 1962) before his assignment to write songs for the childrens cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock made some of his music familiar to a new generation. Gradually over time, Bob Dorough has gained the fame that he has long deserved.

For his exploration of the music from Oliver, Dorough and his quartet perform a dozen songs from the show including inventive versions of "Food, Glorious Food," "As Long As He Needs Me," "Who Will Buy," I'd Do Anything" and "It's A Fine Life." Flugelhornist Clark Terry and the highly expressive trombonist Tyree Glenn add color and wit in their guest appearances. Bob Dorough and his group give the songs from Oliver a new life that is independent from the production, turning vocal show tunes into high-quality instrumental jazz. This album deserves to be much better known.


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Food, Glorious Food Oliver! Boy For Sale Where Is Love? As Long As He Needs Me Consider Yourself Who Will Buy? I'd Do Anything Pick a Pocket Or Two Its a Fine Life Oom-Pah-Pah! Who Will Buy? (Reprise)

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Bob Dorough
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor Bob Dorough, piano; Bobby Thomas, drums; Clark Terry, trumpet (guest); Ben Tucker, bass; Tyree Glenn, trombone (guest); Al Schackman, guitar


Customer Reviews (3)

"A Swinging Oliver!"Review by Big Toots
CJ 18 An Excursion Through Oliver! Bob Dorough Quartet

In what must be one of the oddest pieces of arcana I know as relates to the musical, “Oliver!,” it is that Davy Jones, who would soon evolve into a “Monkee,” played “The Artful Dodger” in the hit show on Broadway. More importantly, the music presented in this tune tour by pianist, Bob Dorough, his Quartet and his Friends certainly doesn’t dodge or monkey around. It’s a fine – and swinging – covering of Lionel Bart’s very much underappreciated theatrical score.

While “Oliver!” wasn’t in the musical category of “West Side Story,” et al, the material Bart presented has a magnetism that certainly embraces and resonated the storyline. Proof of the score’s substance is its ability to stand alone and swing here. (“Food, Glorious Good,” “Who Will Buy”).

On this fine rendition, Dorough and his guests, including trumpeter Clark Terry, Louis Armstrong All-Star trombonist, Tyree Glenn (as well as cameos by bassists Paul Motian and George Duvivier, and celeb drummer, Ed Shaugness) work their way through all of the beloved Charles Dickens’ novel-based show tunes. And, no swing paupers these, they cover the date with flair and what must have been a heaping bowlful of studio fun. With Clark Terry and Tyree Glenn in there it appears and sounds definitely so (“Who Will Buy?” “Oom-Pah-Pah!”).

Dorough, who went from this “workhouse” material on to “Schoolhouse Rock,” leads his team eminently in command of them and his 88s. Guitarist Al Shackman sears on his various solo runs and bassist Ben Tucker is, like Fagin’s street urchins, “in the pocket.” On those cuts he appears, Bobby Thomas’ drumming is a joyride.

It is said that Dickens always slept with his head pointing north to enhance his writing creativity. If Charlie were listening to this fine effort, I guarantee he’d move the bed. “More, Maestro, more!”

(Posted on 6/3/2015)
Bob DoroughReview by Simon Sez
Bob Dorough is famous in jazz for his quirky songs, humorous vocals and fine piano playing. On this offbeat set, he does not contribute any songs or vocals. Instead he sticks to playing piano in a very interesting combo that does what they can to turn 12 songs from the Broadway show Oliver into jazz.
While “As Long As He Needs Me” has been heard in jazz circles, it has been many years since “Food, Glorious Food” made an appearance. But somehow Dorough, with the assistance of Clark Terry, trombonist Tyree Glenn and guitarist Al Schackman among others, makes Oliver sound like it was a witty jazz production, achieving his goal of bringing “new” songs into the world of jazz.

Simon Sez: Bob Dorough on An Excursion Through Oliver (CJ18), turns the songs from Oliver into jazz tunes with Clark Terry and Tyree Glenn.
(Posted on 5/6/2014)
Review by -Scott Yanow
Bob Dorough and his group give the songs from Oliver a new life that is independent from the production, turning vocal show tunes into high-quality instrumental jazz. This album deserves to be much better known.

(Posted on 6/12/2013)

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