The man who's been known variously as Dr. John, Mac Rebennack, and The Night Tripper has inhabited an even greater variety of musical guises in his long career. For a single-album anthology, The Essentials does a great job of encompassing them. You get Dr. John the second-line Mardi Gras parade master on "Iko Iko" and "Tipitina," the salacious funkmeister on the indelible '70s smash "Right Place, Wrong Time," and the lovable duet partner of Rickie Lee Jones on the pair's GRAMMY®-winning version of "Makin' Whoopee." And that's just for starters. Even though The Essentials is just a dozen tracks long, numerous other identities reveal themselves before it's all over. Dr. John the mellow jazz piano stylist pops up on an urbane interpretation of Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," and Mac the melancholy blues balladeer appears for a jazz-flecked take on the Ray Charles hit "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'." By the time the album closes with a funky, mostly instrumental version of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," we've gotten a pretty good look at this musical maverick's many faces.