Doctor Scat – Jazz Master

Traditional Jazz brunch at “Kong Arthur”

by on Jul.08, 2011, under Gigs

Thursday,July7 Great day in Copenhagen
If I were to pick the greatest place in the world to be, it would In the courtyard of the Kong Arthur Hotel on sunny Danish summer afternoon surrounded by an international potpourri of brilliant, talented jazz musicians. This is the Annual Jazz Brunch hosted by the family that owns the hotel. The spread: gumbo, sushi, appetizers, desserts, free drinks. All of this in the company of old and new friends.

The rhythm section (bass, drums and piano) is swinging and various players step forward, axe (instrument) in hand to play into the ears of some master musicians. After a few instrumentals, I walked to the bandstand, called a familiar tune, counted it off and went for a ride. A wonderful Italian clarinet player joined me and played a dazzling solo. I felt the level of my own improvisation soaring into new dimensions as the rhythm section got more intense and driving. When the tune ended, and the applause died down I looked into the eyes of the old masters at the front table (Svend Asmussen) and received a knowing nod, ‘good job…you`ve got it.` After a few more tunes, the trumpet player called a Clifford Brown tune called Sadhu. I jumped up (well, given the condition of my healing knees, it wasn exactly a jump) and took a few choruses. A saxophonist named Christina Von Bülow stepped to the stage. I have been wanting to perform with her ever since I saw her winning the best young musician award five years ago. After many choruses we finised the tune. Smiles in all directions.

Video here – more stories below..

As the air got cooler and the light dimmed all the guests began filtering out into the parking area. I felt a fabulous sense of completion.

Lisbeth and I went to a club called KafCaféen to hear a band named Stærkeodder, featuring Tranberg, Osood, Kjærgård. I have known the pianoplayer Søren Kjærgård and the drummer Kresten Osgood since the first time I stepped into a danish nightclub twelve years ago. Kresten and Søren invited me to sit in and I recieved a standing ovation. Later that night they invited me to preform at a midnight jamsession. I’ve been going back ever since.

The band was somewhat left of avant garde, in fact they left avant garde in the dust. The opening song involved the tree musicians whisteling in a playful way. Then the trompet player using a mute began emitting that were beyond definition. The second tune was completly free form with Søren on the floor plugging the piano strings on his upright piano, Kresten played responsivly to the caos around him, sometimes playing whit knitting needles, and other times just stamping his foot. They invited a guest saxofonist from Finland who fit right in. The interplay amoung the musicians was exiting and occasionally produced a sweet and listenable tune. That brought the night to and end.

See all videos from Copenhagen here:
Dr. Scat Youtube Channel

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by on Jul.06, 2011, under Gigs

Tuesday, July 5 When I learned that Bobbie McFerrin was performing at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, I immediately skyped (videophoned ) my friend Ejvind and told him to order five tickets. It was good that we did because the concert sold out in two days.

The performance was at the concert hall of Denmark Radio. The hall was extraordinary, with seating broken up into multiple levels and angles. Great acoustics. Bobbie McFerrin came out on stage alone in jeans and a black tee shirt. After the thunderous opening welcome from the audience, he sat in a chair with a hand held microphone and began to sing rhythmic lines that outlined brilliant harmonic cascades. He supported the rhythm by slapping his chest. The range of his voice was well over 4 1/2 octaves. His falsetto high notes were impeccable and always in tune. After two songs, Bobbie began to talk to the audience, engaging them in a converstation. Then he asked if there were any professional dancers in the audience. Two women and a man came bouncing out to him. With each of the two females he improvised with his voice and they improvised with their bodies. The male dancer started tap dancing in sandals and Bobbie got down on the floor with the mike and improvised so the audience cold hear the tapping. We were entranced by the utter spontaneity of the experience. More thunderous applause. After another medley of tunes, he asked for singers from the audience. Five singers immediately appeared and with each one, he improvised or sang bass lines to support them. After another tune featuring his magnificent low range, he asked for sixteen singers to join him on stage. Forty appeared. He separated them into bass, tenor, alto and soprano and taught each of them polyrhythmic lines with an afro-cuban beat. The crowd was enthralled.

At one point he began to sing a beautiful set of arpeggios that sounded like the upper register of an organ. He raised his hand to the audience and the voices of over fifty women rose spontaneously and with incredible purity, to sing Ave Maria. I have included some clips to give you a taste of the excellence and humanity of Bobbie McFerrin´s concert. At one point in his singing, Bobbie uttered these words: “Every day make something better.” And so it was that every member of the audience was uplifted.

Side note…a bright momnet: Bobbie McFerrin came to the Orpheum in Memphis in 1989. I knew that during his performances he would jump off the stage and go into the audience. I purchased two tickets for my then wife Beth and me tenth row center aisle. Sure enough, he jumped off the stage and walked up the ceter aisle. He walked past me about five rows, turned around and came back to me, He asked for my name and he asked if anyone had ever made a song about my name. I said *no*. He started to sing my name in 5/4 time. I looked up at him and started singing a blues bass line. For a moment he was startled then immediately started to scat sing over my bassline. After a couple of choruses, he started to sing a bass line and I scatted on top of his bass line. The audience went wild. Later my friends asked me if we had rehearsed it. It was totally improvised. We had a ball 🙂

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Mark in Denmark – continued 7/4

by on Jul.05, 2011, under Gigs

Monday July 4 Independence day in a foreign land

I’m not sure what redemption looks like, but singing in front of the Monday Night Big Band at midnight during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival really cleans my karmic slate. In this artistically rarified environment the past fades into nothingness and we are drawn completely into the present moment. This sixteen piece band is comprised of some of the best musicians in Copenhagen; and that´s saying a lot. This is my tenth year performing with them. I bring my own arrangements written by Carl Wolfe, alto sax player with the Memphis Jazz Orchestra. The Danes love his arrangements. I am still dealing with pain in my knees and some serious pain in my left foot. The pain can be draining, so I have been napping (a perogative of those of us that are seventy years old). My friends and I had front row seats, looking into the eyes of the saxaphone section. The comraderie and joy at playing this music is palpable. Some of the soloists are so outstandng that you can see other musicians closing their eyes in deep revery as they follow the innovatve lines of the improvisation.

It often amazes me, given that jazz is America´s original art form (along with skateboarding) how few people realize that when a jazz musician is performing a solo, he is creating spontaneously in the moment. Our school systems have failed miserably at conveying the meaning and essence of this precious music, so revered around the world. My father was one of the top jazz bassists during the 40´s and 50´s. He often talked about the delight the band felt in playing for European audiences. Their respect for jazz and their knowledge of it´s history impressed him. To play a jazz solo into intelligent ears was always a delight; and still is.

Monday night´s concert was physically hot and humid. One rarely sees air conditioning since the summers are so short. Some years it was like performing in a sauna. This time it was just sweaty. The genuine love and affection expressed by the musicians for one another and for the music touched our group and as the concert ended, we left feeling full and uplifted. Tomrrow, BOBBIE MCFERRIN!!!!

  Monday Night Big Band playing Autumn Leaves featuring Dr. Scat

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Mark in Denmark – CPH jazz 2011

by on Jul.03, 2011, under Gigs

Friday July 1 Frst day of the  Copenhagen Jazz Festival…the trip was easy. I’m going into town with my best friend Ejvind and his son toby (16 years old and really into music).  We are going to the Copenhagen Jazz House where many of the world’s greatest Jazz musicians have performed.  Tonight we are going to see the Joey DeFrancesco trio.  This is one of the great organ trios.  Joey plays the Hammond B3 organ accompanied by stellar guitar and drums.  We’re there a half hour early and the place is already packed.  The trio opens with lightening speed and the audience roars with approval.  We are impressed by the variation and articulation of the band.  Toward the end of the first set, I have an amazing deja vu experience.  I hear a familar muted trumpet.  By the delicate phrasing, I Would swear that it is Miles Davis , circa 1961 playing muted trumpet with spacious and elegant phrasing.  I look around the stage for a guest performer and suddenly realize it is Joey DeFrancesco playing muted trumpet in his right hand, chords on the organ with his left hand and a wonderful bass kine on the organ pedals.  I remember that when Joey came on the scene as a young man, he was so impressive that Miles Davis hired him to play with his band. It was a beautiful recollecton.

In the second set, Joey played another trumpet piece, equally as soulful.  Drummer Adam Nussbaum, a regular at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, sat in with the band.  We left happy and fulfilled.

Extra number with Joey Defrancesco
Joey Defrancesco Trio + extra drummer

Joey Defrancesco Trio

Extra number with Joey Defrancesco

Saturday July 2…day 2

My friend Lisbeth met me at the central train station.  We hopped a cab to the Palae Bar to hear Jesper Thilo,  a top flight tenor sax player.  Alas, the club was packed and so was the street.  We got another cab to the Drop Inn where Christina Von Bulow was playing with her quintet.  Christina was named alto sax player of the year a few years back and she has gotten clearer and more authoritative in her playing  Many of the songs she oerformed with her tenor player were reminiscent of the west coast contrapuntal playing of Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker.  The set was laid back and sweet.

When we had entered the Drop Inn, the weather was a little overcast.  We stepped out, into a torrent, a downpour of biblical proportions.  Through the earthshaking thunder and blinding lightning, we managed to catch a cab in order to meet Ejvind at Tivoli Gardens where our next concert was to be held.  This was our second time to see Angelique Kudjo, Dianne Reeves and Liz Wright in a performance of SING THE TRUTH.  By now the thunder storm had reached both testaments of biblical and 1/2″ hail was hitting us over the head.  Nevertheless, our dedication to the jazz drove us, soaking wet, to the Tivoli Contserthall.  Needless to say my new knees were exhibiting some signs of protest.  We pushed on and finally got seated.  At 8.20 the audience became restless and started clapping, that `We’re getting annoyed` clap.  By 8:30, someone came out on stage to announce that due to dangerous water levels the concert was being cancelled.  Once more into the breech rode our courageous group (with me in a wheelchair, wrqpped in plastic.  Lisbeth and I sat near the entrance of the Tivoli while Ejvind ran for the car.  He returned only to discover that his right front tire was flat  In the diminishing rain, he changed tires and we drove home leaving Lisbeth to make it to the train station.

At ths point we realized that not only the electricity was out all over town, but the sewer system was overloaded and we tried six different routes back to Ejvind`s house (approximately two hours!) in order to avoid being stuck in five feet of water in a tunnel. What an adventure.


I`m looking out the window of Ejvind´s and his wife Zaneta`s lovely apartment in Hillerod.  We are 45 miles north of Copenhagen.  It is our day off from the festival since the water blocking the city is still barely passable and the Sonny Rollins concert was sold out.  Here in Hillerod it is absolutely warm, verdant and beautiful.  We have been watching news clips of the flooding in Copenhagen and specifically the evacuation of the Tivoli Gardens.  What adventure!

Tomorrow I will be singing with the Monday Night Big Band.  I bring my own arrangements written by Carl Wolfe from Memphis.  Seven more days of jazz to go.

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Copenhagen Jazz Festival – 07/01/11

by on Jul.01, 2011, under Gigs

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by on Jul.01, 2011, under Gigs

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Bosco’s – Midtown Memphis – 12/26/10 – Memphis, TN

by on Dec.26, 2010, under Gigs

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Bosco’s – Midtown Memphis – 12/19/10 – Memphis, TN

by on Dec.19, 2010, under Gigs

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Bosco’s – Midtown Memphis – 12/12/10 – Memphis, TN

by on Dec.12, 2010, under Gigs

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Bosco’s – Midtown Memphis – 12/05/10 – Memphis, TN

by on Dec.05, 2010, under Gigs

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