When it comes to capturing the voodoo spirit and uncompromised individuality of New Orleans music, there are few characters that embody the essence as effortlessly as Mac Rebennack, the piano-playing Nite Tripper known as Dr. John.

With the passing of Allen Toussaint in 2015, the 76-year-old Rebennack finds himself a singular elder statesman adding inimitable spin to pianistic traditions learned from such teachers as Professor Longhair, James Booker, and Huey "Piano" Smith. Not to mention his favorite: "My Aunt Andre. I started playing with her when I was 8 or 9 years old. She was a badass player," Rebennack recalled, speaking from New Orleans.

Rebennack isn't the oldest ivory tickler in NOLA — the great Fats Domino, inactive for years, is 89. But the good doctor is conscious of being a caretaker of the City That Care Forgot. "I feel that spirit is going into me, and that's a good thing," he says in that slurpy voice, as rich and piquant as alligator gumbo, widely heard on the 1973 AM-radio hit "Right Place Wrong Time."