Bob Dorough | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bob Dorough 

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Now in his early 70s, Bob Dorough has aged remarkably well, and so has his music--both his performances, few and far between and recorded on a handful of discs, and his compositions, which capture a particular time without becoming dated in the process. Dorough has been hip since it was hep. From his earliest recordings--including his two cult-item favorites, "Blue X-mas" and "Devil-May-Care," recorded in 1962 with Miles Davis--Dorough has presented an intriguing vocal profile: a pale yet wildly animated voice, slightly built, knowing and boppish, with a poet's expressiveness and a hint of willing dissolution. In the 70s jazz poseur Michael Franks borrowed Dorough's sound, turned it into something merely fey--thus removing most of the intrigue--and sold a couple million records. During this time, though, Dorough moved into another area entirely, composing first the several songs that make up "Multiplication Rock" and then several other instructional anthems for Gen-Xers, as part of TV's "Schoolhouse Rock" (recently reissued on Rhino)--a project perfectly suited to the buoyant melodies and wiggy rhymes he has composed all along. Dorough also retains his infectious, hipster enthusiasm, and if you don't smile along with him when he cuts loose, you need to examine other issues in your life. He appears twice this weekend at the Cultural Center, in two typically unusual settings. This afternoon he'll give a sort of lecture/performance and answer questions about his role as music director for "Schoolhouse Rock"; tomorrow a duo concert with Chicago vocalist Joanie Pallatto unites him with a kindred spirit in wild flights of fancy. (Only Ken Nordine is missing.) Friday, 12:15 PM, theater, and Saturday, 2 PM, Randolph Cafe, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 744-6630.

NEIL TESSER

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