Bill Doggett – The Funky Whistler

Bill Doggett - Funky Whistler

O.k. so I’m bringing you something a little bit different this week in the form of this record. I’d probably suggest that this track fits in more with a jazz vibe than something soul or funk, but variety is the spice of life, right?

I first came across this song around 15 years ago when it was featured on one of the excellent “Blue Juice” compilations. I always liked the Blue Note stuff but what grabbed me about those comps was that it wasn’t just all jazz there was the library style groove of Brian Bennett, the soulful vocals of Lou Rawls and the psychedelic jazz fusion of Ananda Shankar with his unique East-Meets-West vibe. Hidden away on the collection was this little gem. I was already aware of Bill Doggett through his immensely popular “Honky Tonk” but outside of that, I didn’t really know a lot about him so I set about finding out.

Doggett’s musical career started way back in the 1930s as a pianist before moving on to become and arranger and a highly proficient hammond organ player. His biggest hit “Honky Tonk” was released in 1956 and sold a staggering 4 million copies. It became arguably the biggest selling instrumental r&b track ever. His success lead to him becoming a bandleader for some of the biggest names in jazz music including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie & Ella Fitzgerald.

The song I bring you today was released in 1967 and is a different sound to that which people had come to expect from Doggett. It has a slow groove, with some nice hammond work and a cool little bit of saxophone action. Funky jazz probably best describes the vibe and although it’s entitled “Funky Whistler” it doesn’t actually have any whistling in it! So sit back, relax, put the feet up and enjoy the cool laid back groove of Bill Doggett. Nice! 

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