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 17, 2008

A Full Calendar.

Don't ever get the impression when I don't check in here that there's nothing going on in New Orleans. If anything it's just the opposite; when I have free time to write (or 'blog,' as you youngsters call it) I'll often sit down and knock out a long opus, but when things are popping you won't hear from me or if you do, it'll be short and sweet, like the last few posts.
Let's see; yesterday was Super Sunday, the biggest day in the Mardi Gras Indian calender, a massive city-wide meeting of the tribes in Central City. This year things kicked off at the corner of Washington and Lasalle, an intersection with much history and atmosphere. On the downtown lakeside corner is A. L. Davis Playground, formerly known (and still referred to by everyone in this neighborhood) as Shakespeare Park. Now that the FEMA trailers have been moved out, it's holy ground is once again present for use in all things Sacred and Indian. Further down Lasalle is the wreckage of the Dew Drop Inn, once the most happening African American nightspot in the south, host of numerous long running performances by Ray Charles, James Brown, and Jackie Wilson, as well as frequent appearances by Huey Smith, Guitar Slim, Fats Domino, Bobby Marchan (who also hosted the Inn's famous drag shows, as the Lovely Roberta) Eddie Bo...virtually every New Orleans performer of note worked the Dew Drop at one time or another. On the river side of the intersection, on Washington, is St. Joseph's Cemetary, where trumpeter and bandleader Ernest "Doc" Paulin was recently laid to rest in one of the most splendiferous, horse-drawn, dirge-walking old school jazz funerals the city has seen in many moons, and, since Katrina, this town has seen a lot of jazz funerals.
On the uptown lakeside corner stands the C.J. Peete housing project (or what's left of it), formerly known as the Magnolia houses, incubator of famous New Orleans musicians from clarinetist Alvin Batiste all the way to the late Souljah Slim, formerly Magnolia Slim and devoted son to Ms. Linda of the 9 Times Social and Pleasure Club, first thread in a series of oblique, glancing connections between people like Tuba Phil (of Rebirth fame), Shorty Brown Hustle, Fifth Ward Weebie, Lumar Leblanc (of the Hot 8) and Junie B (last seen at the Parkway Tavern). New Orleans is really and truly a small town.
Pre-Katrina, DJs used to host parties with speakers on the downtown side balconies of the Magnolia. People would dance and sweat in the summer heat until the pavement was slick, and the DJ would give marching orders to the young women to "walk it like a model" and "shake it on a stick." Now the houses are boarded up, awaiting demolition, even though they are sturdy and could be easily rehabbed. This in a town with possibly the worst shortage of affordable housing America has seen since the civil war. A situation best described with General Honore's famous line, "y'all are stuck on stupid."
Sunday March 9th was the 4th annual parade of the "Keepin It Real" social and pleasure club, running straight down Orleans Avenue from Moss street, directly through the center of my neighborhood. A fast moving parade. We followed it as far as North Broad and Esplanade, then walked home for dinner.
February 29th was a clinic with Terence Blanchard sideman-tenorist Brice Winston, and the students from the Monk Institute graduate program next door at Loyola. The Monk Institute (mainly through the machinations of education co-ordinator and all-round good egg Jonathan Bloom) has been extremely good to us at Tulane, extending all kinds of invitations and opportunities for my students to participate in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities such as clinics with Ron Carter and Kenny Barron. Brice (who is now relocated post-Katrina in his hometown of Tuscon Arizona) came over and tore it up with the students, who are very, very good musicians. I mean very VERY good. Gordon Au (trumpet), Joseph Johnson (bass) Johnaye Kendrick (voice), Vadim Neselovskyi (piano), Jake Saslow (saxophone), Colin Stranahan (drums) and local boy made good Davy Mooney on guitar are sho' nuff heavy players who can hold their own with anybody out there. Everybody in town needs to tighten up their game while these folks are on the set, and they'll be here for at least another year.
So there it is. Jazz on the street. Jazz in the clubs. Jazz in the Academy. In this corner of the world, it's all of a piece.

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