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.

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