“I’ve been a fan of Mike Flanigin for years,” Eno says, “and finally got to meet him when I recorded the Cornell Dupree record [I’m Alright]. Then when he played on the Relatives [The Electric Word], we talked about him making the Dupree record. We wanted the best-sounding record possible, and if I put it out myself, we wouldn’t have to cut corners.”
Organist Flanigin is joined by guitarist Jake Langley and drummer Kyle Thompson in Dupree, who play a style of music you don’t hear much these days. Think of the jazz-funk organ trio sound that was popular from the ’50s to the ’70s, such as on Big John Patton’s Blue Note recordings or Jack McDuff’s Prestige recordings. If that’s too obscure, think of Grant Green’s organ-drenched slabs of funk, and you’ll be in the ballpark. One thing is certain: spin Nuestro Camino a time or two, and you’ll likely find yourself wondering why such funky, bluesy, addictive music ever went out of favor.
Recorded live by Eno in a single afternoon, the all-instrumental album sounds both fresh and familiar and is comprised of six originals and four covers, including the Horace Silver classic “Cookin’ at the Continental” (apropos for a band with a Sunday night residency at Austin’s Continental Club). “We went in, and Jim ran the whole thing live to two-track tape,” Flanigin says. “No overdubbing, no punching in or mixing endlessly. When we hit the last note, Jim punched stop on the tape recorder, and the record was finished.” Adds Eno: “The tracks were performed exactly how you hear them on record, and when we mastered the vinyl LP the mastering engineer went straight from the tapes to the acetate, meaning if you buy the vinyl album, it’s a 100 percent analog recording.”
With their retro sound and stylish album art, which includes a back cover photo of a bright red 8-track player with a Dupree cartridge inserted (and yes, you can actually buy Nuestro Camino on 8-track), some might find it tempting to dismiss Dupree as nothing more than an exercise in retro hipness, but that would be a mistake. The group’s talent and sincerity, along with strong compositional skills, are prominently displayed both on the album and in their live performances. “If you had a time machine, ’60s neighborhood bars would have been littered with organ trios doing exactly what we do — combining jazz, swing, pop, funk, boogaloo, blues,” Flanigin says. “Now you have organ groups out there, but they tend to play strictly Isabel Marant Shoes jazz or funk or blues. That’s not a bad thing, but I think our style makes us unique.”