Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Monday, March 20, 2006


Drummer Johnny Vidacovich is an amazing musician. He may not be a household word to readers of "Downbeat" magazine, but in these parts he's 'first call,' and has been for many years. He's creative, supportive, enthusiastic, thinks compositionally and has a broad knowledge of music, all ideal qualities in a drummer. He also has a deep, deep knowledge of New Orleans drumming styles, from traditional jazz to comtemporary funk, all of which he brings with him to every gig he plays, and that's a lot of gigs. Pre-katrina, New Orleans was a heavy gigging town, and it was not unusual for guys in John's class to work seven nights a week. Even now, you can catch him at least three nights a week at various venues around town, including a regular Wednesday night spot with his own trio at Snug Harbor.

I'll do a comprehensive post on John at a later date, but right now I'd just like to pass on a story I heard from drummer Ray Fransen last week. You see, in addition to being a master drummer, John is a real 'character' as well (no small achievment in this town, which is filled with eccentrics). Ray, who owns Fransen's Drum Shop out in Metairie, told me that he hired John for a drum clinic at his store a few years back. Also present were drummers Earl Palmer (a studio legend and at one time the most recorded drummer in America) and Meters funkmeister Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeleste. As Ray told the story, Earl Palmer was his usual gentlemanly self, speaking eloquently and offering enlightening musical demos at the kit. Zig played a twenty minute solo funk opus. Then John came out and played a few tunes with tenor man Tony Dagradi and bassist James Singleton, two members of the band Astral Project, a band John has played with for over twenty five years.

After the tunes, John took the lectern and said ( I'm going to do my best here to reproduce the effect of Vidacovich's "Y'at" accent, a mode of speech common to white, working class New Orleanians, who do not sound the least bit 'southern' when they talk. Imagine Archie Bunker's Brooklynese with Southern diction).

John: "Well, I guess dis is da time when ya gets ta axe me a few questions, so axe away."

Questioner (in obviously mid-western, middle-American accent): "Mr. Vidacovich, could you explain the difference between first line drumming and second line drumming at a traditional New Orleans jazz funeral for us."

John (after a long pause): "Well, bra, I don't think ya wanna be in the 'foist' line, 'cause dat's da guy in the box. Ain't no drummin goin on in there."



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