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."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tulane at Jazzfest.

Here's a cut and paste of the article as it appears in the Tulane Hullabaloo.

Tulane jazz combo will perform at Jazz Fest
By: Emily Hohenwarter
Issue date: 4/20/07 Section: News

For the first time, students and faculty will represent Tulane University at New Orleans Jazz Fest, playing a 50-minute set Friday. They will perform at 11:20 a.m. at the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage.

The four jazz combos at Tulane are named for the days they practice, and the Friday ensemble is the one that will perform at Jazz Fest.

For many members of the ensemble, playing at Jazz Fest is their ultimate dream come true.

"It was one of my goals when I came to New Orleans in 2002," said trumpet-player Joel Greco, a fifth-year biomedical sciences Ph.D. student. "You have to give a lot of credit to John Doheny. He really bolstered the program."

Doheny is the current director of jazz studies at Tulane.

"My students are very, very excited to be playing Jazz Fest, and I, of course, am excited for them," Doheny said. "My colleague John Dobry and I figured it was high time the university was represented [at Jazz Fest], and of course Barbara Jazwinsky, the chair of the department, has been very supportive of the program."

Saxophonist Caleb Dance said the program has improved dramatically since Doheny and his fellow instructor John Dobry joined the department.

"I've been very pleased with the movement of the jazz program over the past few years," Dance said. "My experience in the program has been primarily with Doheny, and he demands a high level of musicianship from the ensembles he directs. He also has lots of experience and advice regarding playing in professional settings, and to top it all off, he's a great player himself.

"Doheny was the one responsible for getting us this Jazz Fest gig. He submitted the recording we made at the end of last academic year. I'm a better musician for having played with him and the other great musicians in the combo," Dance added.

This spring, William Buckingham will be the first student to graduate with a degree in jazz studies. Though Tulane's jazz program is still developing, Doheny is confident in its ability to train musicians.

"While we don't have the long history in this area that a school like Loyola has, I like to think the students get more personal attention here," Doheny said. "Also, John Mahoney's focus at Loyola is very much on big band jazz, which is a difficult venue for development as a soloist. There just isn't enough space to blow. We have a jazz orchestra, of course, but we also run four small combos, which offer a great deal of opportunity to develop skills like soloing over chord changes and playing in more intimate, chamber-music style situations."

This past week, Canadian jazz great and Doheny's longtime friend Alan Matheson visited New Orleans and held clinics with the jazz combos, culminating in their spring concert Tuesday night. Matheson was featured in the concert playing the cornet and flugelhorn, and some of his arrangements were also used. While in town, Matheson got to explore the city and experience French Quarter Festival.

"[The trip has been] great. I've been able to work with some of the students from Tulane Jazz Ensemble," Matheson said. "It's nice for me because it's only the second time I've been here. I teach jazz history, so naturally New Orleans is the center of it all. It's exciting to be here."

In the future, Doheny hopes to bring more established musicians like Matheson to campus. He would like to see more adjunct faculty hired to teach brass band-type music.

"We do have some excellent resources in our Applied Music instructors. Drum instructor Kevin O'Day, for instance, knows all that stuff backwards and forwards, but it's a matter of paying people for their time," Doheny said. "We're hoping that enrollment stays strong and the university is able to free up more money for adjuncts."

Many of the music professors currently at Tulane, however, do have significant performance careers outside of teaching. The music department faculty band, the Professors of Pleasure, recently recorded a CD set for a fall release. The group will represent Tulane at the International Association of Jazz Educators conference in Toronto in January. With such talent, Doheny is convinced the jazz program at Tulane will continue to prosper.

"One of our primary goals post-Katrina was to make sure private music instruction at Tulane was of the highest possible quality, and I believe we've achieved that," Doheny said. "Our philosophy is that instructors should have viable careers as jazz professionals so they can act as conduits to the professional world for the students. That's how we all got into the business. First we studied with someone, then we were sitting in with them, then we were hired. Now is our chance to carry on this tradition, to 'pay it forward' if you will."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Jazz Humor.

Big doings around my patch of ground these days, what with Alan Matheson coming down and the Tulane "Friday" combo making their debut at Jazzfest this friday.

One of the nice side benefits of Alan's being here was that we got to spend a lot of time together, more than we have in almost thirty years. It seems when you're young you're always hanging out, but as you get up there in years you tend to bolt the gig right after the last set. Having to get up in the morning to teach doesn't help.

One thing we did was do a lot of reminiscing about our teachers and mentors, many of whom have shuffled off this mortal coil. Guys like tenor man Fraser Macpherson, trombonist Dave Robbins, and Alan's trumpet teacher at Northwestern in Chicago, Vincent Chickowitz. We both agreed that we appreciated being able to tell these guys how much their mentorship meant to us while they were still around to hear it.

We got to swapping Dave Robbins stories and quickly realized he was the Joe Venuti of Vancouver, dry-as-a-bone humor-wise. A particular gem from a long ago arranging class when a rather pedantic student (it was neither of us, thank god) pointed out that Dave had mis-spelled a diminished chord. "Mr. Robbins, shouldn't that be a B double flat?" (Dave had written it as A flat).

Dave's response? "Why say 'no no' when 'no' will do?"

He also once teased Alan about ordering a non-alcoholic beer. "That's like reading Playboy for the articles."

Many years ago I personally appropriated one of Fraser Macpherson's lines. As we walked onstage through the wings for the concert tuesday night, I did my best impression of Frazz's deep-pitched, melodious voice, "Any word from the governor?"

I can't quite put my hand on it, but hanging with the old school cats just had a different vibe to it. That's not a knock on my contemporaries, many of whom are damn good company in addition to being extremely funny dudes when the occasion demands. But us newbies tend to be products (or inhabitants) of a more respectable, academic social strata. The old heads were outsiders, outlaws. Being a jazz musician was seen as suspect, and the music (and the people who made it) was seen as subversive and possibly associated with narcotics and women of ill repute. I still remember a girlfriend's father referring to me as "that saxophone player," as if my relationship with his daughter was the end of her respectability (it would have been too, but she was too smart to fall for my hustle). But that was over thirty years ago. He'd probably just take me for a 'jazz nerd' now.

Serious jazzbo humor tends to survive most strongly in young, African-American players, who by dint of ethnicity are outsiders whether they want to be or not. I played a gig with pianist Jesse Mcbride a few weeks ago, who I guess is about 27. The job was in a private dining room at Commanders Palace (an extremely upscale restaurant here in New Orleans) and we were playing an event put on by the Tulane Office of Donor Relations, so what you had basically was a room full of extremely rich white people. Apart from the serving staff, Jesse's was the only black face in the room. Everybody but the band was wearing name tags, but Jesse made the event organizer make one up for him too. "I have found," he said," that if I get too far from the piano without a name tag at events like these, people start asking me to bus their table."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Alan Matheson in New Orleans

Everytime something really amazing happens to me in New Orleans, I can't help but think how nice it would be if my old friends and colleagues from Vancouver were here to share it with me. Every once in a while, I can connive to make it happen.
I've known Alan Matheson since 1976, when we were both students at Vancouver Community College's fledgling Jazz and Commercial Music program. Although we very quickly went our separate ways (he to Northwestern University in Chicago to study with renowned trumpet instructor Vincent Chickowitz, and to develop over the years into a world class trumpeter, pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader, jazz historian and educator. Me to go on the road with a bunch of blues bands and hustle cocktail waitresses) we kept in touch over the years. When I started directing combos and jazz orchestra at Tulane a couple of years ago, I didn't want to just play the usual stuff you find in every jazz-friendly university's music library, so I started using my music budget to buy some of Alan's charts. His combo things are very challenging, but when you get it right they sound really great. Over the last two years or so, my combos have presented Matheson compositions like Modalee, Cypress, T.S.C., Sisu, Further East, and Alan's arrangement of Cedar Walton's Ugetsu and Charlie Parker's Parker's Mood. We'd talked about him coming down to do some clinics and concerts, and this spring we made it happen.
Alan arrived on wednesday April 11th, and so far he's guest lectured my Improv class, played a gig with two of my students (bassist Will Buckingham and pianist Jon Cohen) and is currently in the middle of a clinic here in the band room. This Tuesday night he's appearing as a guest artist with the Tulane Jazz Orchestra, playing some arrangements he originally cooked up for Clarke Terry, when Clarke was guesting with the Vancouver Festival Jazz Orchestra, which Alan directs.
Alan will be playing cornet and flugelhorn on Intimacy of the Blues, Indiana, When It's Sleepy Time Down South and Is It True What They Say About Dixie?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Super Sunday Photos.