Dr. John: Duke Elegant

Dr. John and his lower 9-11 band impart their own subtly sassy N'Awlins-style hoodoo to the work of Duke Ellington on this album of covers. Most of the songs here will be familiar even to jazz dabblers ("Satin Doll," "Moon Indigo"), and at times John is a little too reverential, treading gingerly when a more consistently "fonkified" approach might have better filled the bill. But his take on "Caravan" is an out-there reinvention for Hammond B-3 organ and string-popping funk bass that briefly quotes Ramsey Lewis' "Wade in the Water." John unearthed two relative obscurities for this project, including "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'," whose smoldering arrangement recalls his own "Right Place, Wrong Time." And the band really lets down its hair on "Flaming Sword," a cakewalking, calypso-flavored composition that closes Duke Elegant on a high note.