The similarities between Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) and Louis Armstrong (Satchmo, short for Satchelmouth) are impossible to ignore. Both have deep, sleepy, gravelly voices, both hail from good ol’ New Orleans (and of course love the NOLA food they were raised on by their mamas), both get groovy with a big brass backing band and both represent the rags-to-riches tale, only achieved by both of the NOLA-lovers actually leaving New Orleans to pursue music.
The most notable similarity perhaps is the fact that while Dr. John described Armstrong as “the most famous guy that ever came out of my neighborhood. He became a legend all over, for his trumpet playin’ and everything else, and he was the United States’ ambassador to the world,” New Orleans music writer Michael Hurtt, describe Dr. John by saying, “He has become a poster child. You cannot separate Dr. John from New Orleans. He’s like Louis Armstrong. He’s like a cultural ambassador. He’s basically packaged this culture he came out of with a lot of nuances that are pretty subtle.”
So it stands to reason that Dr. John’s next album “Ske-Dat-De-Dat… The Spirit of Satch” is a tribute album comprised of 13 tracks drawn from Armstrong’s classic hits over his fifty-year career. Due to be released on August 19th, 2014, the album features over a dozen world class musicians, including top horn players Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, Arturo Sandoval, Wendell Brunious, James Andrews, and Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
The idea for this tribute compilation came from an encounter Dr. John had with Armstrong. Though he had met Armstrong only once, the legendary jazz musician spoke to Dr. John in a dream. “Louis’ spirit came to me and told me to do something, that’s how this whole thing started… He told me, ‘Take my music and do it your way.’ It was the most unexpected thing in the world to me, to have Louis’ spirit show up like that, but he gave me a concept of where to roll with it that was spiritually correct. That made me feel very open to try some different things, because I felt that his spirit had ok’ed this record.”