If the name Dr. Michael Torregano sounds familiar, it should.
The New Orleans born multi-instrumentalist has been working and teaching for decades in his hometown and beyond. For over 30 years, he has been playing piano with his brother, clarinetist Joseph Torregano. On Doctor Jazz, his second outing as leader, he applies his talents as a pianist in solo, trio and quartet settings. His band includes locals clarinetist and saxophonist Louis Ford, bassist Al Bernard, and drummer Sullivan Dabney.
The album, which is full of classic material from Crescent City composers such as the great King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton and others like Benny Goodman and Cole Porter, could best be described as pleasant to the ear. In other words, it is very musical. It hits you that way from the opening measures of the standard “I Could Write a Book.” The well-recorded tune swings gently with the trio heightened by some lovely piano flourishes provided by Torregano.
Torregano’s minimalist, single note solo introduction to Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” sets the tone for the emotional drama of the song. It is quite elegant.
On Doctor Jazz, the pianist is at his best in the world of ballads and romance as heard on “Old Folks.” He does show he can fly on Benny Goodman’s and Charlie Christian’s upbeat “7 Come 11” that features Louis Ford on clarinet. He’s also got it swinging on “Just One of Those Things.” That’s Torregano singing on this cut, the only tune that includes vocals.
Doctor Jazz makes one want to hear more from the talented Michael Torregano on recordings and on the scene.