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."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Alan Matheson Returns.

Around this time last year, I wrote about my old friend Alan Matheson's visit to New Orleans.

Alan is a trumpeter-pianist-arranger-composer-bandleader-educator-jazz-historian whom I've know for over 30 years. That's a lot of hyphens in one descriptor but believe me when I tell you that he does each and every one of those things exceedingly well. When I started developing the jazz performance programs at Tulane he was the first guy I thought of. We now have quite a few of his arrangements and compositions in our library, both for big band and various types of small combos.On his visit last year we used him in-concert as featured soloist on four arrangements he'd written for Clarke Terry and the Vancouver Festival Orchestra, which Alan directs. The arrangements were in honor of Louis Armstrong's 100 'birthday' in 2000 (Armstrong was actually born in 1901), and were of tunes closely associated with Armstrong (Intimacy of the Blues, When It's Sleepytime Down South, Indiana, and Is It True What They Say About Dixie). The concert, with Alan playing Clarke's parts, went so well that I got the idea in my head to take the whole thing out to jazzfest in 2008.

Well, that's just what's happening. Alan will be appearing with the Tulane University Jazz Orchestra and myself, May 2nd at the Gentilly Stage at 11:35 a.m. If that's too early (or too pricey) for you, we'll be presenting the same program, absolutely free, this coming Tuesday April 29th at 8:00p.m. in the Dixon Theater on the Tulane Campus. In addition to the four selections mentioned above, we'll also be doing a couple of other Matheson charts ( Swing With Byng, a Matheson original, and Alan's arrangement of Harold Arlen's Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, featuring Rachel Brotman on vocals) and the Al Hirt classic The Man With The Horn, featuring recent Tulane grad Joel Greco on trumpet.

Be there, or be square.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Ragged Edge of Fatigue.

Man, I'm beat. To my socks.

I'm trying to figure out a way to give a sense of the musical and cultural life of New Orleans (my small corner of it anyway) without just posting a laundry list of events and gigs, but it's hard. Most of the year (I'm discovering), it's just not possible for me to see and do everything I want to.

So, I did manage to take one of my students to both the Bayou Steppers second-line parade and the scaled-down version of the Bayou St. John Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indian function last Sunday ( I've been encouraging my students to get out into the city and attend these events, but they often cite transportation difficulties, or concerns that they will be conspicuous in their caucasian-ness. Finally I just started saying, "look. I've got room in the car. Meet me in front of the music building and you can come with me"). On a similar note, I was again appearing with pianist Fredrick Sanders at Sweet Lorraine's a week ago friday (and again Saturday at a private party, with new-bassist-in-town Rob Kohler) when Fredrick's ex-piano student, Jon Cohen, dropped in, and was invited to sit in. A great experience for Jon, getting a chance to play with a world class rhythm section (bassist David Pulphus and drummer Julian Garcia). Hell, it was a great experience for me. I often feel like I'm in very fast company in New Orleans, and that I need to play my very best just to keep up.

Pursuant to that, I skipped most of French Quarter Fest this past weekend to spend time in the practise room tightening up the music for tonight's CD release (7:00p.m., Dixon Theater on the Tulane campus) with the Professors of Pleasure. Hard on the heels of that is a gig with John Dobry's band (really the Professors, but with Tulane jazz program grad Will Buckingham on bass, subbing for his teacher, Jim Markway) at the Hi-Ho Lounge on St. Claude avenue thursday April 17th. Then we'll be well stuck into various jazzfest gigs (including one on May 2nd with the Tulane Jazz Orchestra) , term-end concerts (April 29th for the Big Band, April 30th for the combos), and final exams. Then it'll be time to get ready to go on the road this summer with the Professors.

As my father used to say, "no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need any."