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."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Harold Battiste.

The "Jazz at the Rat" series, co-curated by the Lagniappe organization and the Tulane Jazz Performance Studies Department, continues to serve up opportunities for students to interact with major figures in the music. April 1st at 8:00p.m., Harorld Battiste will be appearing with various combinations of students and faculty at the Rathskellar Bar in the Lavin-Bernik Center for Student Life on the Tulane campus.

Mr. Battiste may not be well known to the general public, but his credentials in the music business go back more than fifty years. In the 1950s he was a member in good standing of the first wave of New Orleans 'modern' jazz icons Ellis Marsalis, Alvin Batiste, James Black, Alvin "Red" Tyler, Nat Perrilliat and many others. During his thirty year tenure in Los Angeles he worked as an arranger-composer (Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," Barbara George's "I Know") as well as arranging and producing for Lee Dorsey and Dr. John. He started (and continues to run) New Orleans first black-owned artist run record company AFO (All For One) recordings. For 15 years he was musical director of Sonny and Cher's television show, earning six gold records along the way.

Upon his return to New Orleans in 1989 he was instrumental, along with colleague Ellis Marsalis, in creating the University of New Orleans Jazz Education program as it currently exists under the stewardship of director Steve Masakowski.

His influence as a jazz educator continues with the release of "The Silverbook," his compendium of compositions by New Orleans modern jazz masters. In addition to being an invaluable source of compositions that have become New Orleans modern jazz standards with which every practising modernist in the city worth his salt must be familiar (James Black's "Dee Wee," "Monkey Puzzle" and "Magnolia Triangle," Nat Perrilliat's "Little Joy," and Battiste's own "Nevermore," Opus 43," and "Beautiful Old Ladies"), it is also a comprehensive method for the study of jazz performance practise. As Battiste writes in the forward :

"The Silverbook concept is based on a process which started around 1946 when the Jazz learning process for a group of young New Orleans boys conciously began. Of course there was no forethought that they were developing a 'learning process' but fortunately, by documenting their activities and keeping track of the music they studied, I have been able to see "the process" in retrospect."

Those "young New Orleans boys" included Alvin Batiste, Edward Blackwell, Ellis Marsalis and of course Battiste himself who, in what I've come to recognize as a typical set of New Orleans-style social coincidences, is not only friend and mentor to my colleague, jazz pianist Jesse McBride, but is also an old and dear friend of my neighbor Miss Vera, and thus has ceased to be a distant and intimidating figure in music history and instead has become "Harold," a very nice cat who lives just a few blocks around the corner from me.

April 1st, 8:00p.m., Rat Bar, Tulane campus.

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