Look-Ka Py Py Podcast (ep 43): Tom McDermott’s Bamboula

Since his move to New Orleans in the mid-’80s, pianist Tom McDermott has come to be known as one of the finest purveyors of the city’s signature sound. Few rival the soft-spoken maestro’s touch on the blue piano and fewer, his mastery of the New Orleans musical lexicon. Yet, the piano man’s upcoming compilation album Bamboula, curated by acclaimed composer, producer, arranger and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, shifts its focus away from Booker and Fess’ finesse and flair towards McDermott’s choros, musettes, rags and duets with longtime collaborator, clarinetist Evan Christopher.

Tom McDermott, podcast photo, OffBeat Magazine

Famously know for his collaboration with Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys’ Smile, Parks’ musical influence dates back to the early ’60s and spans the stage, screen and studio. Director Ken Kwapis (The Office), a high school friend of McDermott, first turned Parks’ ear onto the exceptionally talented, idiosyncratic pianist’s playing, and it was a shared appreciation of the brilliant but obscure genius of New Orleans composer Louis Gottschalk that ultimately brought McDermott and Parks together. Following the release of McDermott and Christopher’s 2011 album Almost Native, Parks began tinkering with the idea of curating McDermott’s canon, and in this week’s episode of OffBeat’s Look-Ka Py Py Podcast, McDermott takes you inside the project. Tune in…