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."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

At the Uptown Gallery

On January 12th I played a nice little gig with newly-arrived-in-town bassist Rob Kohler (a killer player who's on the faculty at the Stanford University jazz camp, among his many other accomplishments). The bass-tenor-sax duo format can be challenging. Each player has to cover so much, you feel like a one-legged man at an ass- kicking contest. But with Rob on board it was deeply satisfying.

But I'm really here to tout my wife Darlene's show opening, which was the event we were playing at (yes, I got the gig by sleeping with the artist).

Darlene has really been coming into her own as an artist in New Orleans. The spiritual and artistic vibe in the city has been a real inspiration to her, sending her work off into all kinds of interesting tangents and processes. She's produced quite a few pieces inspired by the pantheon of Voodoo Lwas, and another series with an egg-in-nest motif. Concurrent to these themes, she's been tinkering around with actual physical eggs, using the methods of her Ukrainian ancestors to create decorated "Pysanki" eggs with voodooistic themes. What I've come to think of as "Ukrainian-Creole" art.

The show at the Uptown Gallery (which is up until February 6th, the day after Mardi Gras) is called "Natural Abstractions; Gifts of Spirits." A number of the prints were created using photographs of the interior of cut logs from trees felled by Katrina in our old 13th ward neighborhood. Darlene uses altered versions of the photographs to etch plates from which the limited edition prints are hand-pulled.

Works by Darlene Bigus Doheny are showing at the Uptown Gallery, 139 Broadway, right where Broadway meets the levee.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Dr. King.

Like many Americans, I was profoundly moved by Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I was only 10 years old when I heard it for the first time. My father was involved in the civil rights movement, and he always made it clear that slavery was the original sin of this country, and that racial discrimination was a stain on the national character. Only a fool (or a blind man) would fail to see the enormous strides we've made as a nation in this area since 1963. And only a fool or a blind man (or the many prominent republicans who are won't to opine that racism 'just isn't that big a deal' anymore) could fail to see that race is at the back of practically everything in this country.

As a white man, this is clearly not my area of expertise. Yet I can't help but notice that the apologists for things like racial profiling, and the folks who insist that racism 'isn't that big a deal,' or that, most incredible of all, white men are now subject to discrimination (shut out as they are, poor babies, from the circles of power in business, politics, and the arts) all seem to be white guys.

How do they come by this information? Who tells them that people of color no longer suffer discrimination of any kind in this country?

I'm guessing their yard man.

All sarcasm aside, I can't help but think that there's something unseemly about white people holding forth on this subject. Our complete lack of subjective experience in this area would seem to dictate that we keep our traps shut. Sort of the same thing as men deigning to sit in judgement on women and abortion (my favorite line for that subject is "it all comes down to when in the process you believe life begins, and I believe that it begins when men start minding their own fucking business"). So I'm going to leave you with Dr. King himself opining on the subject, and button my caucasian cakehole.