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."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Harold Battiste Booksigning.

There's so many major cats here in New Orleans who are important to the music, yet are virtually unknown outside the city. Jazz media tend to be kind of "New York-centric" so New Orleans is largely off the radar, even though the music kind of, you know...started here. And let's be clear; jazz in New Orleans does not begin and end with the traditional form of the music, nor is "modern" jazz in New Orleans something that begins and ends with Wynton Marsalis.
Harold R. Battiste Jr. is one of that generation of post-war jazz men (Edward Frank, Ed Blackwell, Ellis Marsalis, Alvin Batiste, Idris Muhammed, James Black, Nat Perrilliat) who were forging their own regionally unique brand of modern jazz here back in the late 40s, 50s, 60s. To the extent that modern jazz in New Orleans is a style distinct from the rest of the United States (and I absolutely believe that it is) these men are at the back of it. Harold himself has worn many hats; producer, composer, arranger, musician, A&R man. He arranged and produced Sam Cooke's early hits. Produced the first three Dr. John albums. Produced Sonny and Cher's hits, and was musical director on their TV show. He also taught in, and helped develop (along with Ellis Marsalis), the jazz education program at the University of New Orleans.
Harold is also my neighbor here in the Bayou St. John area, and I figured I knew him fairly well. Reading his recently published autobiography though (Unfinished Blues: Memoirs of a New Orleans Music Man") reminded me again of how little we really know about others. I'm just happy Harold is getting some props while he's still around to enjoy them.

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