The third and final collaboration between Dr. John and jazz producer Tommy LiPuma, Afterglow is a sequel to 1989’s In A Sentimental Mood. That album was a collection of pop standards, rendered in low-flame fashion. Afterglow revisits the Great American Songbook, but this time ups the ante with a big-band orchestra. Dr. John is the perfect complement to the big-band setting. His loose, lovelorn croak provides a splash of vinegar in the big, brassy renditions of “I Know What I’ve Got,” “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” and “New York City Blues.” He has a unique ability to get inside these songs. Rather than use Frank Sinatra as a model, Dr. John takes a bluesman’s approach. His timeless style and depth of feeling are highlighted on the lush nightclub maneuvers of “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You,” “Tell Me You’ll Wait for Me” and “There Must Be a Better World Somewhere,” which put him in the tradition of his heroes: Ray Charles, Betty Carter and Charles Brown. Everything about this project is high-class, but if you’re in need of a starting point try the sterling “Blue Skies.”

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