Second Opinion was all original material, with the exception of this song. Yes, it’s that “Back in Black”, by AC/DC.
We thought it would be fun to throw in one cover song, but to do something really different, that we could put our own stamp on. We had done that on the first album with “I’m a Man” by Spencer Davis, and it went over really well.
There’s some debate about where the idea came from. My wife is a huge AC/DC fan, and we had seen them live around the time we were gearing up for the album. I think she might have suggested it to me, and I brought it to the band. We were already working with Jeff on the material at that point, so we were getting pretty close to going in to the studio.
The rhythm section guys recorded their tracks before we had any horn parts, which was pretty unusual for us. So they did a rough arrangement, and then when the horns went to do their parts, Jack wrote stuff to fit. So we never played this one live until after the album was done. But it goes over very well live – we usually close a set with it.
It starts off slow, just drums, and it’s pretty down-tempo. Most people don’t recognize the song until the lyrics come in, and some people still don’t until the chorus hits. By that time, everyone is on-board and singing along!
Alexey plays a very cool solo here. He pushes the harmony a bit to create tension. The fast runs at the end are tough to transcribe, but I think they are pretty close. And then of course he takes it way up high to end the solo!
Promises is another tune from Doctorfunk’s album “Second Opinion”. This one was written by Jack Halsey, our lead trumpet player, horn arranger, and musical director. It’s a slow funk groove with a great feel to it.
Alexey Nikolaev turns in another great solo on this one, with both fills around the verses as well as a feature solo as well. I love the intervallic work he does during the solo, both up in the altissimo range, but also down to the bottom end of the horn. It really gives the solo some nice contrast and feels unexpected.
What’s Up Doc? is a song I wrote as a tribute to Doc Kupka, of Tower of Power fame. As a baritone sax player, he’s obviously been a huge influence on me, and he’s also provided tremendous support to Doctorfunk over the years.
We worked with Jeff Tamalier (former TOP guitarist) to produce this album, and he continued to work with Doc through Strokeland records. Jeff had Doc record a bunch of his witty sayings to pepper in throughout the recording which make it even more fun.
This is Alexey Nikolaev’s tenor solo from the album. When I wrote the tune, I knew I wanted a tenor solo reminiscent of classic Tower of Power and Lenny Pickett. I didn’t even have to tell Alexey this, the first time he played the solo (and every time since then), he’s nailed it every time, and this recording is no exception.
I was in the studio when he recorded it. He did a few takes just to give us a few options to choose from at mix time, but they were all perfect. He’s a real pro, and a monster player, as you can tell from the solo!
The solo comes roaring out of the gates at the break over the bari walk up (hey, that’s me!) I like how Alexey builds tight four-bar phrases. The second four really knock me out with his use of chromatic bebop-flavored lines and precise rhythmic delivery. The ending is off the charts!
Tenor Sax! I’ve done a ton of killer Tenor transcriptions, but the problem is, 99% are filled with altissimo passages that I can’t pull off. Tenor is the horn that I have the fewest number of hours on (by a huge margin), and my altissimo chops just aren’t there. But this solo doesn’t have any (which is actually surprising for Alexey since he has monster high chops).
Alexey is a local Seattle guy, but he’s a world-class sax player. I’ve played alongside him in Doctorfunk for over ten years and it’s a real treat hearing him solo night after night. This solo is a typical example of his playing – very technical, but clean and fluid. Great harmonic ideas – nothing too outside, but nice use of chord extensions and intervals to provide color.
Since this CD is hard to find, I’m providing a YouTube link as well.