Saturday, May 3, 2014

Christy Doran 13 Questions

Christy Doran was born in Dublin, Ireland and has lived in Lucerne, Switzerland since his childhood. His father was an Irish ballad singer, providing Christy with his first exposure to music.
In the 1970´s he was a founding member (along with Fredy Studer, Urs Leimgruber and Bobby Burri) of the seminal Swiss band OM. Tours throughout Europe, radio/TV - appearances, workshops, music for ballet, theatre and film. Over the years, his career has included countless solo concerts, in which he regularly pushes to the limits the capabilities of a single guitar. He has played in duos with Marty Ehrlich, Harry Pepl, Fritz Hauser, Dave Doran, Dom Um Romao, John Wolf-Brennan, Robert Dick, Ray Anderson, among others. After playing in a trio with Jasper van´t Hof, he went on to form the "Christy Doran´s May 84" septet with Norma Winstone, Trilok Gurtu, Urs Leimgruber, Rosko Gee, Dom Um Romao and Dave Doran. He has been a member of the Peter Warren Quartet with Victor Lewis and John Surman, and RED TWIST & TUNED ARROW with Stephan Wittwer and Fredy Studer (1985 - 1987).

Christy Doran was also a co-founder of Doran/Studer/Burri/Magnenat, (later "Doran/Studer/Gerber/Magnenat") and member of a quartet with Bobby Previte, Mark Helias and Gary Thomas. He played in a trio with Marilyn Mazur and Kim Clarke, as well as with Sibylle Pomorin´s Augeries of Speed meeting Terry Jenour, Annie Whitehead, Kim Clarke, Herb Robertson, Kamal Sabir. As a member of Urs Leimgruber´s Ensemble Bleu he also played with Francoise Kubler, Louis Sclavis, Hans Koch.

New Bag. Photo Franca Pedrazzetti

Other performances have included work with Carla Bley, Albert Mangelsdorff, Bob Stewart, Edvard Vesala, Charlie Mariano, Manfred Schoof, Iréne Schweizer, Aldo Romano, Piérre Favre, Peter Schärli, Glenn Ferris, Wolfgang Dauner, Fernando Sounders, Heiri Känzig, Julio Barreto, Sonny Sharrock, Jim Meneses, Keven Bruce Harris, Martin Schütz, Daniel Mouton, Ronan Guilfoyle, Marc Peterson, Burhan Oecal, Werner Lüdi, Christoph Baumann, Lars Lindvall, Mark Halbheer, Urs Blöchlinger, Günter Müller, Lauren Newton, Tim Berne, Jim Black, Gunther Schuller, Airto Moreira a.o. He has toured in Europe, North-Africa, India, the Caribic, Mexico, Bolivia, the U.S. and Canada.

Foto Andy Newcombe

1989 began a collaboration with trombonist Ray Anderson, which lead to the trio ANDERSON/BENNINK/DORAN (including drummer Han Bennink), which disbanded 1997.
1993 Christy Doran, together with Fredy Studer started the project DORAN/STUDER/MINTON/BATES & ALI play the music of JIMI HENDRIX. 1994 Django Bates was replaced by cellist Tom Cora. 1995/96 the band played in quartet with Phil Minton, Amin Ali, Fredy Studer and Christy Doran. Tours with this band throughout Europe, Scandinavia, , the US and Canada.

With Yang Jing Foto Maurizio Zolzi

Since 1993 Christy Doran is working with American flutist Robert Dick and English drummer Steve Argüelles as the A.D.D. - Trio. 1994 Fredy Studer and Christy Doran refounded the double-bass - quartet with Jean-François Jenny-Clark (acoustic bass/Paris) and Jamaaladeen Tacuma (electric bass/Philadelphia).

1994 Swedish saxofonist Thomas Jàderlund invited Doran to play in the Amazing Orchestra (with Guy Klucevsek, Stein-Erik Tafjord, Svante Henryson, Tomasz Stanko, and Jonny Axelsson). A new collaboration with Albert Mangelsdorff, Bruno Spoerri and Reto Weber started 1997.
Recordings have included those with Hank Roberts, Joe McPhee, Corin Curschellas, Hardy Hepp, Helmut Zerlett, Iréne Lorenz, Boris Salchak, besides several recordings with musicians mentioned above.

Christy Doran´s current groups include Christy Doran´s New Bag (founded Dec. 97) with vocalist Bruno Amstad, Wolfgang Zwiauer on electric bass, and Fabian Kurattli on drums. the A.D.D. trio, and Spöerri-Doran-Weber with Albert Mangelsdorff.

Christy Doran also teaches at the "Musikhochschule" of Lucerne/Switzerland.

Christy Doran's New Bag - Three Punk Chords Tango

What do you remember about your first instrument?

As I wanted to play guitar when I was 6 years old, my parents, then living in Ireland, bought me a plastic ukulele for Christmas.

Of course it was more a toy than an instrument (my parents were very humble in those days, my father being a ballad singer;-) but I learned myself to play "Tom Dooley" on it. Later on at the age of 12 when we started living in Lucerne/Switzerland I got a classical guitar - again for Christmas - and started to take lessons with a woman down the road. It was only when I was 15 when I really woke up, that was when the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and later Jimi Hendrix came on. As there were no teachers who could play that sort of stuff back then, I learned by myself; I learned a lot of the Rhythm & Blues guitar solo's by Keith Richard and Brian Jones on the first Rolling Stones Records, then not knowing that they were more or less copying guitar solo's by Chuck Berry!

Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

I need music to express myself as I am not a very eloquent;-)

Of course we can live without music, there are so many interesting subjects - one life is not enough -
but I think having been blessed with musicality I should try to make the best of it and give people something by playing, composing, etc. I have received so much from many musical giants (Davis, Coltrane, Shorter, Zawinul, McLaughlin, Hendrix, Nono, etc. etc.)

I would like to be able to give on something myself.

EYE IN THE CITY - VJ performance by PY Borgeaud & Christy Doran

Which is the main pleasure of the guitar?

The guitar is such a diverse instrument. It can sound very sweet but also fierce;-)

Recently guitarists have explored many new techniques, f.e. preparing the guitar with all sorts of gadgets, but also with electronics and pedals. I like the guitar because it still has that "dirt" to it - which is not possible f.e. on a piano (unless combined with electronics).
A piano will always sound "well-tempered" no matter how it is played!

I also enjoy just playing 'round and suddently you realize that you have something under your fingers
which you never played before (f.e. chords with open strings etc.). Of course this is something that accurs on all instruments.

Which work of your own are you most proud of, and why?

I would not know which to name - I think I like the "real" bands the most, I mean the bands that layed together over a long period of time, for example OM (1972-82) and NEW BAG (1997 to the present day). These bands are naturally more profound than shorter collaborations.

Speaking about collaborations: there are so many which I would not like to have missed: here just a few:

Fredy Studer: we started off to play together when we still went we were boys - practicing in a garage where I was living. He used to have carboard box as drums and a piece of metal leaning on the wall as a cymbal. Me playing on my parents radio;-) Yesterday we practiced again together in his rehearsal studio - what a long time in between, 'must be soon 50 years! Amazing, is'nt it!?

Ray Anderson: I played on and off with Ray for seven years. In the 90's we used to tour in duo, I also recorded a cd for HAT ART called Christy Doran's PHOENIX' including three tunes with Ray. Later on we toured as trio together with drummer Han Bennink and recorded two cd's again for HAT ART (which recently have been re-released on a compilation cd called ABD on hatOLOGY).

Foto Christof Zachl

.I would also mention the great Indian mridangam master Muthuswamy Balasubramoniam from Cochin, South India and Boris Salchak, throat-singer from Tuva - we recorded a beautiful cd (with Airto Moreira) called Shamen for M.E.L.T Records, England, early 90's, long before throat-singing got known in the west.

Last but not least: Fabian Kuratli, the first drummer of NEW BAG - who unfortunately died at the age of 37 - I still miss him.

Where are your roots? What are your influences?

Well, starting from the beginning; as already mentioned my father was a typical Irish ballad singer. From him I know the Irish folk music from those days. But my father had studied six years at the Dublin conservatory, so I also heard him singing the Italian Opera-tunes. My mother played the accordeon and together they used to play every Saturday night in a local dance hall in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. When my father was not singing, he would play the drums. My father liked Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, etc. so my background starts with those "ingredients".

Later on - as I mentioned - I learned the music of the 60's by myself until Hendrix died. As I did not find another "hero" like him I was turned on to jazz: first "easy-going-jazz" like George Benson, etc. A jazz-drummer who played in my trio got me on to Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Tal Farlow, Jim Pass, a.m.o. Mani Planzer, the leader of the Mani Planzer Big Band/Lucerne, became aware of me (Lucerne is very small;-) and gave me the first Lp of John McLaughlin: "Extrapolation", with John Surman, and Tony Oxley. That really hit me  and I then REALLY knew I wanted to become a jazz guitarist.

Christy Doran Bunter Hund.  Photo Ralph Kuehne

I visited workshops of Volker Kriegel, German jazz guitarist of the late 60's, which was organized by the Swiss Jazz School in Berne, the first Jazz School in Switzerland. After attenting that workshop I went to school in Berne for three years. Finally I myself became a teacher there. At the same time I attended classical guitar lessons at the conservatories of Berne and Lucerne (because in those days one only could get scholarships for classical music;-) Well, it surely did no harm:-)

But my greatest influences were recordings like Bitches Brew, all the recordings of Miles's Quintett, Coltrane, the early Weather Report recordings, plus Tony Williams LIFETIME (with John McLaughlin and Larry Young/organ).

What do you dream about, musically speaking?

It's an old dream: I would like to be in a band which regularly plays together, works on a personal music - and also hang out together. As example: the Miles Davis Quintett in the early 60's. I think that band was five years together - and I also think one can hear that. All the recordings are great. Way ahead of the time. Nowadays it seems more difficult to have a working band.
All (jazz-) musicians (including myself;-) are playing in various bands, they are also better educated than years ago, but therefore also interchangeable.

Another "dream" I am (still) working on is to be able to improvise freely - on a high musical level - without repeating myself;-)

Define the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear.

John Cage answered to the question which music he likes best: "The music I never heard before"!
I don't think I want to play the same music my whole life - that would be boring - music should always develope and change!

Important to me is the balance between rhythm, melody, sounds, improvisation, composition, groove, solo's, group-impro, lyricism, "heavy stuff",  etc.

I want it all:-)

How would you define the present time in musical terms?

Well, music has always also to do with the society - f.e. in the 80's Germany was prosperous and every city had a budget for cultural activities. It was easy to get a tour together with well paid concerts in concert halls etc. Today jazzclubs have a hard time, first of all because of the cuts on their budgets and secondly because young people are less attracted to jazz, so jazz is in a "sandwich". Most music which interests me has dissapeared in the underground. A lot of the "successful" music sounds commercial to my ears. I also think one can hear that this music is created in order to be successful. But that is not where real art will derive from. Of course there are always exceptions (thank God;-)

What's the importance of technique in art, in your opinion?

Technique is needed to such a degree as one needs it to express the music one hear's inside.
It's great when one does not hear the technique involved and can concentrate on the music;
if the technique is too dominant it's a pity for the music.

A valuable advice that someone has gifted to you in the past?

My father told me: just do your best, that's all you can do!

Photo Klaus Muempfer

What gear do you prefer in your sound chain?

Years ago I used to carry my own amp on tour (even to India, North & South America, Scandinavia etc.)

In the meantime the gear at the venues are much better and I can get a fairly good sound out of most amps. I carry some pedals with me, f.x. the whammy by digitech, a device which allows you to add any interval to your single note or even your chords. I have used it quite often also on cd's etc. Or course I will always have a delay item with me, at the moment I use the small t.c. electronics 2290. I also like the green box by digitech, actually also a delay unit which you can modulate, but somehow it replaces the funktion of a reverb unit. Then I have a Fulltone booster or something like that.

Signal me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music.

It must be about 10 years ago when I heard music by D'Gary, the guitarist/singer from Madagascar.
I have been anyway interested in Indian music and being on tour in Madagascar may have intensified my interest in the combination of Indian and African music. Madagascar has a special population: simply said, the natives from Indonesia are in the centre of the land and the African inhabitants have settled at the sea on the coast. The musical mix of these two cultures are very special. But anyway: I found two cd's of D'Gary on a French label and the cd's have been playing a lot;-) D'Gary has a lot of de-tuned guitar voicings and his technique is great in my point of view. Every note seems "gilted". It is beautiful music, although the texts are many times social critical - which I think is strange;-)
The music had influenced me and I recorded a solo-cd named  "Acoustic Isles" and also a cd called "Now is the Time" with NEW BAG, all playing acoustic instruments.

Doran, Stucky, Studer, Tacuma: Hendrix in Woodstock performing at Festival Lent, (Maribor) on 2.7.2011.

What are you currently working on?

Next month, in May 2014 I have 9 concerts with my band NEW BAG, including an appearance at the Jazzfestival of Schaffhausen/CH which will also be on air by the National Radio DRS2. I am practicing my tunes for that event!

The thing is that I would like to write some easy tunes and often start off with a simple phrase, but then when I get into developing it regarding composion the whole thing get's wild and in the end it is a damn hard thing to play (the computer plays it so easely;-)
Well, there is always something (a saying often used by Fredy Studer and myself;-)

In September I am taking NEW BAG to South America, to play the La Paz Jazzfestival and in other Bolivian cities. The end of the tour will be
in Buenos Aires on September 16, 2014. I am looking forward to that, and am organizing a lot so that everything goes smooth.

In January 2015 I will be recording again with NEW BAG, so I need some more compositions, and I always need a lot of time and effort for them.

Photo Sonia Lopes

Christy Doran Discography

own projects

1. „Harsh Romantics“, C. Doran solo, Synton (1982)
2. „May 84“, C. Doran Septet, Planisphare (1984)
3. „The Returning Dream of the Leaving Ship“, C. Doran solo, Synton (1986)
4. „Phoenix“, C. Doran, duo´s w. R. Anderson/M. Ehrlich/U. Leimgruber/H. Roberts, hatART 6074 (1990)
5. „What a band“, C. Doran solo, Hat ART CD 6105 (1992)

6. „Doran/Studer/Minton/Bates & Ali play the music of Jimi Hendrix“, Intuition/any/vBr 2134 (1994)
7. "Confusing the Spirits", Christy Doran´s NEW BAG, ON CUE RECORDS 001
8. "Black Box", Christy Doran´s NEW BAG, Double Moon Records 71022 (2001)
9. „Heaven is Back in the Streets“, NEW BAG, Double Moon Records 71031 (2002)
10. „Perspectives“,NEW BAG, „Between the Lines Records“ BTL 71204 (2004)

11. „La Fourmi“, Doran-Hauser-Leimgruber-Pfammatter, Creative Works Records 2005
12. „Now’s the Time“, NEW BAG (acoustic), „Between the Lines“ BTL 71214 (2006)
13. „Acoustic Isles“, Christy Doran solo acoustic guitar, with DVD by Susanne Dubs (2006)
14. „The Competence of the Irregular“, NEW BAG, Between the Lines BTL 72119 (2008)
15. „Take the Floor and Lift the Roof“, NEW BAG, Double Moon 71103 (2011)


1. „Montreux live & more“, OM, Indian Rec. (1974)
2. „Kirikuki“, OM, Japo/ECM (1976)
3. „Rautinohaha“, OM, Japo/ECM (1977)
4. „OM with Dom Um Romao“, OM, Japo/ECM (1978)
5. „Cerberus“, OM, Japo/ECM (1980)

6. „Antenna Out“, The Doran Bros., Zytglogge (1982)
7. „Kroumir“, Under Control, Konnex (1985)
8. „Red Twist & Tuned Arrow“, RT&TA, Doran/Studer/Wittwer, ECM 1342 (1986)
9. „Henceforeward“, John Wolf-Brennan/C. Doran, Leo Lab CD 015 (1988)
10. „Music for 2 basses, electric guitar & drums“, DORAN/STUDER/BURRI/MAGNENAT, ECM 1436 (1991)

11. „Corporate Art“, Doran/Helias/Previte/Thomas, JMT 849 155 (1991)
12. „Azurety“, Ray Anderson/Han Bennink/Christy Doran, hat ART 6155 (1994)
13. „Half a Lifetime“, Fredy Studer/Christy Doran, Unit Records UTR 4068 2 CD (1994)
14. „Cheer Up“, Ray Anderson/Han Bennink/Christy Doran, hat ART 6175 (1995)
15. „Instinct“, A.D.D. Trio (Argüelles/Doran/Dick) L&R 45104 (Bellaphon) (1996)

16. „Race the Time“, DORAN-STUDER-TACUMA, MGB 9703 (1997)
17. "Shaman", trio with throat-singer Boris Salchak/Tuva, and A. Moreira, perc., on M.E.L.T. 2000 Ltd, (BW 2112) (1998)
18. "Shake, Shuttle and Blow", Spoerri-Doran-Weber with Albert Mangelsdorff (ENJA 9374) (1999)
19. "Bisquitus desintegrat", A.D.D. trio (ENJA) (2000)
20. „Triangulation“, Brennan/Héral/Doran, LEO Records (2004)

21. „Doran-Stucky-Studer & Clarke play the Music of Jimi Hendrix“, Double Moon (2005)
22. „A Retrospective“, OM, ECM (2006)
23. „Acoustic Strings“, Heiri Känzig/Dominique Pifarely, Fabian Kuratli, Christy Doran (2007)
24. „Willisau“, OM (Intakt Records CD 170) 2009
25. „ Whirligigs“, Triangulation (LEO Records) (John Wolf-Brennan, Bruno Amstad, Patrice Héral, C.D.)
26. „ABD“, Ray Anderson, Han Bennink, Christy Doran (HatOLOGY 695)

as side-man

1. „Hand in Hand“, Hardy Hepp, Mercury (1984)
2. „Zwei“, Fritz Hauser, HatHut (1988)
3 . „Born in the Forest“, Hardy Hepp, Hand in Hand (1986)
4. „Jazz Rap“, Dave Doran, COD19. (1986)
5. „Augeries of Speed“, Sibylle Pomorin, ITM (1990)

6. „Bright Moments“, Brigeen Doran, B&W (1998)
7. „Music loves me“, Corin Curschellas, MGB (1999)
8. „Seven Songs“, Fredy Studer, Intuition/Verabra (ca. 1987)
9. „Amazing Orchestra“, Thomas Jäderlund, Caprice Rec. CAP 22045:1-2
10. "Sskies", Maurice Magnoni, altri suoni AS057 (2000)

11. „Percussion Orchestra meets Phong Lan Orchestra Hanoi“, Plainisphere Rec. 2003
12. „Secrets“, Katia Mair’s KAAMA, Unit Records 2005
13. „I.N.I.T.I.A.L.S.“ John Wolf Brennan, Creative Works 1046/1047 (2005)
14. Reto Weber’s „Pakistani Sufi Soul meets Occicental Contemporary Sounds“ with Ustad Sharqat Ali Khan Group & Chico Freeman, Christy Doran, Eberhard Weber
15. „NuBtz ReMix“, XL-TARGET, with KJ Dave Doran (drums, samples, programming, concept) & Christy Doran (el. guitar, efx) (UNIT 4299)