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, November 30, 2010

"Parades and Saints" available, in-store and online.

I've been spending a lot of time in the studio during the last year, both on my own and other's projects. A fair bit of this stuff is now moving into commercial "release," most recently my trio project with drummer Geoff Clapp and bassist Rob Kohler, "The Real Cool Killers."


The dilemma at this point, as any musician knows, is actually getting noticed amid the avalanche of material out there. I honestly don't think the 'signal to noise' ratio, the percentage of crap music to worthwhile stuff, has really changed much over the years. But the sheer volume of music in commercial release out there these days can make if difficult to make one's presence known. When Rob Kohler was in town recently (he lives in Los Angeles now) we were talking about the Killers project, and he said something to the effect of "that's a damn good record. I just hope it gets heard through the noise." The economics and logistics of the music business have changed enormously, and continue to change. At this point, a lot of us are really in the dark about how to actually sell our music.

Below are some ruminations I posted as a comments thread on another site. The moderator had suggested "Parades and Saints" as a Christmas gift.


It's also priced extremely low, at $9.99. In part that's because it was comparatively cheap to produce; we had no studio costs (it was recorded 'live' direct to digital in the Tulane Recital Hall) so I thought it's pricing should reflect that.

However, at the risk of sounding like I'm whining at you to buy my records (which, of course, I am, lol) I'd like to mention here that the changes in the music business in just the last 5 years or so are making it increasingly difficult to document creative, non-pop-oriented music of any kind. The vast majority of my students at Tulane, for instance (who, ten years ago, would have been an obvious, easily reachable market for my stuff) do not own a single CD, and rarely even bestir themselves to pay for i-tunes downloads, unless it's a classic track I've assigned in a class. And even then they sometimes bitch about having to shell out the 90 cents. What things like file-sharing have done is create an entire generation of people who have literally no conception of music as a commodity. It's just 'there,' like tap water.

I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, as an educator, having near instantaneous access to virtually the entire recorded oeuvre of jazz music is a powerful. powerful tool to have at one's disposal, and free downloadables like the Amazing Slowdowner offer students methods of transcribing solos that players of my generation (who ruined countless vinyl copies of "Kind of Blue" playing them over and over again to 'bite' Coltrane's solos off them) could only dream of. On the other hand, the ubiquity of music today, in my opinion, tends to devalue it. Music used to be a sweet treat, now it's everywhere, being pumped into your head via i-pod. And reducing great works of art like Cotrane's "A Love Supreme," a work I played every single day of my life for a number of years, to 'information' that can be 'downloaded' at will...to me it's a bit like putting Rodin's "The Thinker" in a can, you know?

But I digress. What "Parades and Saints" lacks in recording quality it more than makes up for in vibe. That night in the recital hall was truly a spontaneous, magical moment, and it's captured there for you to relive. We had no idea that performance would be a CD, we thought we were just recording for analysis and preparation for the 'real' record later, but Rob called me the next day and said, "you know man, I think this is it. This is the record." And when I heard it, I knew he was right.

There's a lot of 'imperfections' on it that would be excized in a studio recording, particularly the spontaneous shouts, groans and exhortations emmanating from the players. But that was the moment, that's what happened.

Music may indeed be 'free' (and the music on "Parades and Saints" is very free indeed) but my landlord still demands coin of the realm the first of every month. Recording studios and pressing plants also demand their due. If people don't buy my (and others) recorded products, we'll be left without the means to make more. We're not looking to get rich, but we'd like our music to be heard.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

End of Year Update.

A bit premature, I know, but I've got a few spare minutes and, given the nature of my schedule, who knows when that will happen again. As it is I feel like I'm stealing valuable practise time to do this because, among other things...

I got my alto fixed. I own a beautiful 1954 Selmer MK VI alto (I believe that's the first year they made them) that I haven't played for probably nearly two years now because it had some serious leaks. I recorded two tunes on it for the 2007 "Professors of Pleasure' release and played a few scattered gigs on it around that time, including the 2006 ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) at Tulane, then put it away as it was getting to be a real bear to get air through. Just recently I took it to Paulo Tung (who, sadly, is moving to California in the new year) and he fixed it up a treat. It plays beautifully, in no small part because I found the "holy grail' of saxophone mouthpieces, a "New York" Meyer, while cleaning out some boxes of miscellanious junk back in the music library here in the bandroom at Tulane. And a good thing too, because I'm playing lead alto on some big band things with Fred Sanders in December.

The "Jazz Orchestra and Friday Combo" concert is this coming Tuesday in Dixon Hall. Every year, these ensembles get better and better, but this year they took a quantum leap forward with the addition of some seriously killer soloists (tenor saxophonist Ari Kohn, trombonists Ethan Thompson and Molly Heiligman, pianist Ethan Stern and guitarist George Wilde in the Big Band, as well as new drummer Dillon Frazier and, in the combo, tenor man Evan Slaznik, pianist Adam Whitley-Sebti and drummer Mike Mcculoch) kicking the whole thing up several notches, to the point where I'm planning on recording both ensembles professionally in the spring semester. It's time.

For my own self, this past fall has seen the release of my second album recorded as leader here in New Orleans, "John Doheny Presents the Professors of Pleasure vol. 2."
as well as a trio recording that should be in-store (and online) at the Louisiana Music Factory sometime next week, a collaborative project with New Orleans drummer Geoff Clapp and Los Angeles-based bassist Rob Kohler under the name "The Real Cool Killers." "Parades and Saints" is my first serious foray into 'free' jazz, and it's a damn fine record. I'll post a link to it online when it goes up on the LMF in-store database.

The new year will also see the release on my CD of the compositions of the late Canadian bassist Jasper Clarke. Again I'm going to risk being accused of blatant self-promotion by singing it's praises, but the truth is, Jasper's music is killer, and it's being played by some of the brightest and best young players on the New Orleans scene today, including alto saxophonist Rex Gregory (whose new CD "An End to Oblivion" has been voted one of the "twenty best releases of 2010" by WWOZ radio) tenor saxophonist Allen L. Dejan Jr., 17 year old trumpet sensation Latasha Bundy and Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson's son Wess IV (aka "Quad) on trombone. Along with us geezers (Jesse Mcbride on piano, Geoff Clapp on drums, Jim Markway on bass, and Edward Anderson on trumpet, all of whom teach with me here in the music department at Tulane) they have crafted a swinging, sobbing, joyous tribute to one of the best cats you could have holding down the groove on your bandstand. Jasper never got to record any of his own stuff for commercial release during his lifetime. We aim to put that right.

Then, next february (or thereabouts; we haven't settled on a firm date yet) my good friend vocalist Colleen Savage is coming down to record a new CD with me and my colleagues here in the department, the 'house band,' the "Professors of Pleasure."

So, you know...no moss growing on me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tulane Big Band and Combo Concerts, Nov. 29th and 30th.

November 29th in the Recital Hall at Dixon is the "combo concert." November 30th, 8:00p.m. in Dixon Theater is the Jazz Orchestra and "Friday" Combo.

When I first started doing these things, there were only two combos (the Tuesday Band and the Friday Band) and I directed them both, as well as the jazz orchestra, and I used to put them all on the same concert. When the combo program expanded (there are now five of them, with additional directors Jim Markway, Jesse Mcbride and John Dobry, and we hope to add a sixth "trad jazz" combo next semester) the program got too long, so we split them up over two nights.  The focus in the small bands varies, according to who's directing. John Dobry's band, for instance, often showcases original compositions or unusual instruments (this year violinist Tanya Huang is featured; if you've seen the tv show "Treme," you'll recognize a character based on her). Jesse Mcbride's two bands tend to play a lot of repertoire by New Orleans modern jazz composers like Harold Battiste, Ellis Marsalis, and James Black. Jim Markway's group plays more 'traditional' modern jazz material like you'd find in the "Real Book."

My own "Friday Band" has always been kind of the "A" band. It was the first 'for credit' small band at Tulane when we launched the Jazz Performance Studies Program, and it's continued to feature the more accomplished, advanced players. Every year I'm convinced the new version is the best ever, but this year the band has taken a quantum leap forward into serious-good territory, as has the Jazz Orchestra.

We'll be featuring  music by John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie, Miles Davis, and Sammy Nestico, as well as appearances by guest clarinetist Colin Kemper and guest vocalist Mimi Mcmurray. Admission is free. You should be there.