This week I got a parcel from eBay. Inside was a tiny amplifier, only about 10 cm square by 5 cm high, but its impact on my music-listening life has been huge. The little box of tricks lets me connect even more audio devices to my chunky hi-fi speakers, offering even finer control over the sound coming out of them—and it didn’t come a moment too soon. For as soon as Jetse de Jong’s new EP dropped into my inbox, I knew I had to hear it pumping out through those beefy boom boxes.
Jetse de Jong Plays Dorothy Labostrie is just what it says: a young Dutch boogie-woogie pianist (and his band) showcasing the biggest hits of an underappreciated rock ’n’ roll-writing legend. Kentucky-born Labostrie penned Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Chris Kenner’s “Don’t Make No Noise,” Johnny Adams’ “I Won’t Cry,” Koko Taylor’s “You Can Have My Husband,” and Li’l Millet’s “Rich Woman”—all of which appear on this six-track miniature marvel, alongside one de Jong original.
They’re lazy, bluesy numbers steeped in funk and brimming with soul—classics of the rhythm ’n’ blues era given new life, but with a very vintage feel. De Jong very capably provides most of the vocals, other than on “You Can Have My Husband,” where Isla van Hout steps in. They’re joined by Salle de Jonge on drums, Thomas Pol on bass, Nick Croes on guitar, Claus Tofft on percussion, and Lucas Figueiredo on sax—all of whom give solid performances, although de Jong is definitely the standout musician of the bunch.
The influences of Randy Newman and James Booker on his piano style—with its rolling, wide-open right-hand chords and plentiful passing tones—is obvious. This has been filtered, I reckon, through fellow younger-millennial funksters (and Newman fanboys) Vulfpeck—an excellent thing, in my eyes, as the hipsters from Michigan are my all-time favorite band. Their influence shows in de Jong’s production style: detuned upright pianos, compressed drums, and audible tape hiss give his music an appealingly DIY feel, but in a polished, high-definition sort of way. Distilled hipsterism, overproof.
Original number “All The Fruit” (English for tutti frutti—coincidence?) takes all of de Jong’s stated influences—Dr John, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Booker, Newman, and more—and stirs them into a toe-tapping gumbo which oozes the flavors of both New Orleans and New York City. It’s a jam track (pun intended) with a second-line backbeat, serving as a sort of “that’s all, folks” epilogue to this boisterous little disc. Like the rest of this EP, It’s a little way outside what might be considered standard ST fare, but it will surely appeal to anyone who appreciates jazz as the jumping off point for twentieth century African American music.
This includes me, for sure: if Vulfpeck is the band I’d most like to be in, then de Jong is now the pianist who will inspire me to actually get good enough. Check him out on Bandcamp, where this hip-shaking EP will set you back about ten bucks.