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, November 09, 2009

Kohler Recording Session.

After many false starts and a little actual pre-production, drummer Geoff Clapp, bassist Rob Kohler and I finally managed to get together for our first recording session last Sunday night in the Tulane Recital Hall. The Hall has excellent acoustics (the band room is dampened all to hell and makes my horn sound dry and puny) and is a wonderful environment for recording and performing.

We'd actually looked at a number of tunes in the one rehearsal we'd had (three of Rob's, one of mine) but Rob dragged in after an extremely rough week and said, "hey man. Let's just play 'free,' alright?," then set up a 6/4 groove in C minor and we were off.

I've always had a kind of conflicted relationship with 'free' playing. In some circles I've been lumbered with a rep as someone contemptuous of the genre, but that's really not true. I've simply avoided (for the most part) playing it because I don't think I've got the chops. It's one thing to play reactively with others within the perameters of a set of chord changes, it's quite another another to put yourself in a space where the music can go absolutely anywhere at any time, and you have no choice but to deal with it. It takes great ears, great chops, and the ability to play pretty much anything you can hear to pull it off with style.

I don't lay claim to being 100% in any of those areas but that didn't stop me, (or the other cats) from having an absolute blast. Geoff Clapp was playing so hard at one point that the air whooshing out of the hole in his bass drum head was making my pant leg flap around ten feet away. The stuff we did had structure, varying moodscapes, historical referrences (to funk, 20th century classical, be-bop, and early jazz) and humor. In fact, at one point something we played struck me so funny I fell out of my chair laughing.

Next session we'll probably tackle some actual tunes, but this is a very good start.

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