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, January 11, 2009

Walk In Jerusalem, Just Like John.

Every conversation I have about Obama's upcoming inaguration always seems, at least among musicians, to end with something like, "and you know the music's gonna be killin." That is doubtless true, and won't it be wonderful to be spared the deathless prose of say, Hank Williams Junior ( "John N Sarah tell ya just what they think. And they’re not gonna blink. And they’re gonna fix this country. Cause they’re just like you n’ ole Hank.") in favor of Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. But I can't help but cringe at the prospect of "America's Pastor," the odious, crypto-nazi Rick Warren, reading a prayer at the ceremonies.

It's all in the name of 'bipartisanism' I guess, 'reaching across the aisle' and 'listening' to everybody's point of view. Except a lot of people, myself included, think that when your point of view includes equating homosexuality with pathology and child abuse and abortion with genocide, you should be relegated to expressing those opinions from atop a soap box in a public park, not at the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States.

I can't help think what a grand gesture it would be, had not some mutant shot him dead down in the 9th ward a little over ten years ago, if New Orleans gospel genius Raymond Myles could deliver a speech, and maybe favor us with a tune. Something like the version of "Walk In Jerusalem" that he used to set the walls on fire with at places like the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, with his group the Raymond Anthony Myles Singers (the RAMS) dressed in his regal finery, the kind of threads that made Little Richard look like a small-town Episcopalian minister. Raymond who was so flamboyantly, unabashedly gay and yet he plied his trade in the supposedly 'socially conservative' precincts of the African-American church community, Raymond who was a Christian to the core and yet was so open and accepting of all his fellow souls on the road to enlightenment (unlike certain Jesus jumper honky lardbags who shall go unnamed) and who subscribed to that phrase I have personally heard often in the smallest and humblest of storefront churches in Black America, "you come in your own way, brother."

Come in your own way. Imagine that. Not "do it my way or suffer eternal damnation." Not (as in the smiley-faced, Ned-Flanderish fascism of the Rick Warrens of this world, oops I guess that just slipped out) "don't you dare love the wrong people or use your genitalia in a non-Rick-Warren-approved way (oops. did it again) or you're going to Aitch Eee double-hockey-sticks."

I'll be tuning in to the inauguration on the TeeVee, and I'll be 'kvelling' (as our Jewish brothers and sisters say) over the new president like everybody else, but when a certain boorish, pasty-faced motorscooter comes on (and you know who I mean) I'll be hitting the mute button. And I'll be putting on Mr. Raymond's CD "Heaven is the Place" http://www.louisianamusicfactory.com/showoneprod.asp?ProductID=550
and when the Maestro says "I wanna dance !" that is just what I'm going to do.

Ya heard me?!

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