McCann, Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann, Grover
Washington Jr., Billy Cobham, and Sonny
Stitt. And his rock and pop gigs included stints
with Joe Cocker, Ian Hunter, and Carly Simon.
Will Lee recalls the sort of inventiveness
and spontaneity that led to Dupree’s first-call status. “I can remember my first Cornell
experience vividly,” says the legendary bassist. “It was on Don Covay’s ‘Overtime Man’
session. What was astounding was that
every take would start with him playing a
completely different, amazing guitar intro. I
said to him, ‘That was great—but why did
you change it from the one before?’ He said,
‘Because I have no idea what I played.’”
The Solo Years
By 1973, Dupree’s star had risen enough for
Atlantic to offer him a solo record deal. His
debut, Teasin’, is rife with soulful blues excursions and signature Dupree double-stops.
Through the ’70s, Dupree also played live
gigs around New York City with longtime
friend and bassist Gordon Edwards’ group
the Encyclopedia of Soul. Edwards echoes
Wexler’s assessment of Dupree’s ability to
A snapshot of Dupree at a session in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Gordon Edwards
cover multiple chairs. “Pianos were rough
in those days, most of the time half the keys
were gone and if they weren’t they were out
of tune. With Cornell, I could fire the piano
player because he played chords and melody
at the same time,” says the bassist.
The Encyclopedia of Soul evolved into
a session-player supergroup called Stuff
that consisted of Dupree, Eric Gale, pianist
Richard Tee, and drummers Steve Gadd
and/or Chris Parker. A regular gig at a
Manhattan club called Mikell’s allowed
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