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."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wrap it!

The subject line referrence, for those not familiar with mid-80s Canadian rock band esoterica (a large demographic I'm sure) is to the title of Doug and the Slugs second album. The cats in Doug's band were all old compadres of mine from bar and strip-joint gig days, and after the Slugs became a big deal I'd often cross paths with them on the road. Recently I've reconnected with some of these folks, and it's interesting to remember how we'd gripe, 20 odd (very odd) years ago, about the road "making old men out of us" in light of the fact that we really are, now, old men.

But, I digress, and I haven't even got started. "Wrap it" also in this case refers to the end of the academic year, and what a wild ride it's been. The photo above is of me trying to look noble while Tim Warfield hands me my ass on "Tenor Madness" at this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Tim was in town for our "Jazz at the Rat" series (where we bring in guest artists to do a clinic and then play with the students at the Rathskeller Bar in the student center) and it seemed like a no brainer to have him come out to Jazzfest and play a couple of tunes with the Tulane Jazz Orchestra. We featured him on "The Blues Weaver," a Sammy Nestico chart, and Thad Jones' flagwaver "Don't Git Sassy." When it became apparent that we needed an extra five minutes on the program I grabbed my horn (because I never go anywhere without my horn) and told the rhythm section to play a Bb blues. I took a few choruses, thought I'd aquitted my self pretty well, then stood aside as Tim proceded to take everything I'd played, turn it inside out and upside down, and make it into something much, much better. He's such a nice cat you don't even mind when he cuts you to ribbons.

The Jazz at the Rat program has been such a terrific thing for the students. The Lagniappe people (Tom Moody and Trina Beck) have expressed a desire to continue funding the project next year, and we've already come up with a partial list of people we'd like to bring in. The "embedded professional" nature of the program really kicks things up a notch for the students; they get an idea what it feels like to share the stand with some really top flight players. Then when the faculty band plays the gig, we flip the script and do the "embedded student" thing, so individual students get to experience the vibe of being in amongst professionals.

Because of some scheduling mishaps we wound up with four of these Rat things in the month of April, which, along with Jazzfest and it's attendent spinoff gigs plus student term-end concerts and recitals conspired to create a 'perfect storm' of balls-to-the-wall activity for everyone. In the last two weeks of April I was out every single night, either playing or attending someone else's gig; the last week I had a concert with my combo and big band on Tuesday, the Rat gig Wednesday night, Jazzfest Thursday morning (the bus picked us up at 9:30a.m.) a Jessse Mcbride's Jazz Allstars concert that night (Jesse, Tim Warfield again, Antoine Drye on trumpet, Rex Gregory on alto, James Westphall on vibes, Jason Marsalis on drums, Jasen Khalil Weaver on bass, and special guest 13 year old drummer Eric Calhoun) then, to top it off, I had another gig, with Rob Kohler's trio, at 8:30 the next morning.

But I'm not complaining. I worked long and hard to get myself to a place where I could be this busy and aside from occasionally feeling like the company on the bandstand is mighty fast, I have no complaints. I've got some marking to do, an exam to invigilate, and a couple of makeup lessons. Then I intend to take at least one...maybe two days off, before starting preproduction on a CD I'm making with bassist Rob Kohler in June, then up to Vancouver to play a couple of gigs at their Jazzfest, then back to New Orleans to record a new record with the Professors of Pleasure. Then it'll be time for school to start again.

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