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 02, 2009

Profs of Pleasure at the Rat...

...or, more properly, the Rathskellar Bar in the Lavin-Bernick Center For University Life, but that's kind of a mouthful.

A little backstory on the Profs. When we all came back after Katrina, a number of applied music instructors (basically, the folks who teach private lessons) elected, for various reasons, to not return to the city, or not return to Tulane to teach. The chair of the department at the time, Barbara Jazwinski, asked if I could recommend replacements. While it would seem that this ran the risk of opening the door for rampant cronyism on my part (and to a certain extent it did; hey, you tend to hire people you've worked with in other contexts) it was also a wonderful opportunity to bring fresh ideas and attitudes into the department. The freshest of these turned out to pianist Frederick Sanders who, in his year here, was instrumental in cementing the idea that Tulane could and would have a jazz performance studies department that took a back seat to no one. Through long brainstorming sessions Fred and I developed the concepts that guide the department today; that jazz is a hands-on skill that should be taught by players active in the jazz-performance community, and that this connectivity in turn could and would be a means to stream the most gifted and hardworking of our students into the professional world. That's the way it happened for all of us (although admittedly, in most cases, in a non-academic environment) and we saw this as a way to pay the gift of our mentorship under master player-teachers forward.

Alas, Fred's family commitments dictated his stepping down after just one year, but his replacement, Jesse McBride, turned out to be first rate. Fredrick recommended two people to replace him, and by coincidence I'd just seen Jesse play a few weeks before at Snug Harbor, with Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson. Shortly after that, I played a casual with him at Commanders Palace and we wound up talking about jazz, and jazz education, for over an hour after the gig was finished. The great thing about Jesse is that he just lives to "pass it on," and he doesn't really care how. It could be in an academic context like Tulane (or Dillard, where he also teaches), in the informal areas of the jam session or the after-hours hang, or in one of the two versions of the Next Generation (the ever-evolving institution comprised of up and coming students, a tradition started by the great Harold Battiste at UNO and taken over by Jesse upon Harold's retirement) that he currently has performing Tuesdays and Thursdays at Snug Harbor and Donna's Bar and Grill respectively. By any means necessary, Jesse is going to hand off the baton.

But I digress. At some point in late 2006 it occured to me that since we had all these great players working on campus it would be kicks to form a band, so we did. We played a few little gigs around campus, opened for Irvin Mayfield at Macallister Auditoreum, recorded a CD, and eventually, took it on the road up to Vancouver, Canada, to play the jazz festival up there in June of last year. The band we'll be taking into the Rat this wednesday March 4th will consist of Jesse Mcbride on piano, longtime Tulane bass instructor Jim Markway on electric and acoustic bass, new drum instructor Geoff Clapp, my office mate and partner-in-crime in the jazz studies department John Dobry on guitar, and yours truly on tenor saxophone.

8:00p.m. March 4th

The Rathskellar Bar in the Lavin-Bernick Center on the Tulane campus.

Admission is free.

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