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FRIDAY & SATURDAY
In the past decade, cult singers who had been refining their art in small jazz clubs and on obscure record labels since the 1950s—Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn, Jimmy Scott—have emerged from the underground to achieve mainstream recognition. Now it’s Bob Dorough’s (pictured) turn. The idiosyncratic vocalist-pianist-composer’s music is surfacing everywhere these days. Rhino’s four-CD Schoolhouse Rock collection has reintroduced his voice and songs to several generations raised on the ABC-TV cartoon series. Reissues of Dorough’s 1956 debut album, Devil May Care, and the 1966 Just About Everything are reaching larger audiences than when originally released. And Right On My Way Home, his new Blue Note CD featuring Joe Lovano and Christian McBride, has been hailed as the finest recording of his career. The most entertaining and endearing jazz singer-instrumentalist since the days of Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, the Arkansas-bred Dorough can elicit smiles from card-carrying grinches. This weekend, at the Willard Hotel’s Nest Lounge, his impish, high-pitched vocalizing, idiom-bending pianistics (inflected with classical, bebop and avant-garde touches), and witty, bracing compositions will be spreading joy, supported by bassist Bill Takas, his collaborator for more than four decades, and D.C. drummer Ron Compton. For a special treat, request one of Dorough’s pop art songs—ingenious musical settings of “found texts” including a laundry ticket, a Social Security card, an airsickness bag, a $5 bill, an upholstery label, and an apple pie recipe. At 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday, June 5 & 6, at the Nest, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. $18. (202) 637-7440. (Joel E. Siegel)