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, December 20, 2010

Christmas Spectacular.

l.to r.Jacob Larsen, Darren Phipps, Terence Taplin, David Harris, Steve Lands, Troy Davis, Fredrick Sanders, Jonathan Mannino,  Clarence Johnson III, David Blask, John Doheny, Bobby Campo.
Very interesting and fun gig with my good friend pianist Frederick Sanders, who is music minister at the Church of the King over in Mandeville. The Church of the King has a heavy involvement in the arts, and every year puts on a "Christmas Spectacular" which is really a sort of mini-Broadway-Musical production. This year the show had a 'big band' theme, and was structured as a live radio broadcast from London during the blitz in 1944, complete with announcers,  the "Andrew Sisters," commercials, and big band music with swing dancers as a 'treat for our studio audience.'

Fred had assembled a band of heavyweight New Orleans jazz guys that included trumpeter Bobby Campo, drummer Troy Davis, and tenor man Clarence Johnson III. Getting to hear Troy's stories about his years with Betty Carter and Ahmed Jamal was priceless, and the music was strong and swinging. Troy was doing all that Gene Krupa-esque stick twirling on "Sing Sing Sing," and with his hair slicked back like that he even looked a bit like Krupa, and of course the cat can swing you into bad health. He was just driving that band, man. It was an incredible feeling. Performances by the cast, all of whom were church members, were of professional quality and very entertaining..

I expected people over 70 to be thrilled by the chance to hear this music again, and there was certainly no shortage of delighted, older faces in the crowd at all seven shows. But what kind of surprised me was how much little kids dug it. Children love this kind of music, man. Odds are good they've never seen a live band like that before and, sadly, most of them will never see one again.

This was part of a church service, so Sunday morning we had shows at 8:00a.m., 9:30a.m. and 11:30a.m., very early hits for jazz musicians, and most of us had an hours drive or so over the causeway to get there. But we all tried to hit that first phrase in "In the Mood' as hard and as accurately as we could, every time, because that was the first time the audiences heard the band in each show. They'd seen us, looking sharp in our white dinner jackets, for several minutes as the plot setup unfolded after the lights went up, but when the announcer shouted "hit it, Fred!," we wanted those first notes to be killin, every time, because you could feel the electric response from the crowd. The vast majority of these people had never heard a live big band, and you could see them going "wow!"

Big up to Fredrick Sanders and the Church of the King for making it possible to present this music to a whole new audience.

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