All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Interviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Christy Doran: New Bag, New Tricks

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
I don't think art should have borders or containment...there's still a lot to be discovered, explored and evolved.
The opening concert at the 14th Bray Jazz Festival in May, just half an hour outside Dublin in County Wicklow, was something of a homecoming gig for Irish guitarist Christy Doran and his quartet New Bag. Doran was born 63 years ago, just a few short miles down the road from Bray, in Greystones, though at the age of 10 his parents relocated to his mother's homeland of Switzerland, where Doran has lived and made music for the past half century.

With drummer/percussionist Fredy Studer, saxophonist/flautist Urs Leimgruber and double bassist Bobby Burri, Doran created Swiss free-jazz history in the band OM, recording five albums, four of which were on the Japo/ECM label, in a 10-year period from 1972-1982. He has also taught jazz guitar in the Lucerne Music School, in Switzerland, for over 40 years, though this hasn't stopped him from pursuing a busy recording and touring schedule with a diverse range of musicians. In a long and varied career, Doran has collaborated with free-jazz luminaries such as pianist Carla Bley, drummers Marilyn Mazur and Han Bennink, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich.

Doran has put his own musical stamp on everything from the music of Jimi Hendrix to the writings of Samuel Beckett, and from jazz-rock to Chinese folk music. At 63, he could be forgiven for taking his foot off the pedal, but this most exciting of jazz electric guitarists is, by his reckoning, probably busier now than he's ever been and has more collaborations on the go than you could shake a stick at.

Doran has just released Mesmerized (Double Moon, 2013), his eighth CD with New Bag— a typically firey jazz-rock effort. Then there's No. 9 (Leo Records, 2012), the quietly sublime duo collaboration with Chinese pipa player Yang Jing. With the debut CD of Doran's quartet Bunter Hund due out in January 2014, Doran is enjoying a creatively prolific period.

And, as the Bray Jazz Festival audience attested most audibly, he's also in absolutely cracking form. Doran clearly enjoyed playing in the old country. "It just feels great to be back," he says, and you know he means it; Doran wrote a tune called "Bray Head" on his album Harsh Romantics (Synton Records, 1984) and has clearly always carried a piece of this part of Ireland in his heart.

Doran's formative childhood years in Ireland were spent absorbing the music that was around him. "My father was a well-known ballad singer in county Wicklow, and my Swiss mother played the accordion," says Doran. "They used to play every Saturday night at St. Kilians Hall in Greystones. When my father wasn't singing, he'd play the drums. They used to rehearse in my bedroom, so I got a good dose of Irish songs and jigs right from the start." With the timing of a good storyteller, Doran adds, "Well, if I'd known then that I'd be playing the Bray Jazz Festival, I bloody well could have stayed in Ireland."

New Bag is Doran's longest ongoing project and clearly one that he has strong personal attachment to. Doran founded New Bag in 1997 with singer Bruno Amstad, drummer Fabian Kuratli and electric bassist Wolfgang Zwaiauer. On the tail of its debut CD, Confusing the Spirits (Cue Records, 1999), the quartet toured North and South America, India, Vietnam and Europe. Already by the time of the second CD, Black Box (Double Moon Records, 2000), Doran's interest in Asian music was more overt, with the collaboration of Indian mridangam master Muthuswamy Balasubramoniam.

Doran had taken a six-month sabbatical from the university in Lucerne and traveled to India, where he stayed in Balasubramoniam's home town of Cochin in Southern India. With typical modesty, Doran refutes the notion that he is a student of Indian music. "I haven't learned Indian music," he says. "I think this would be a lifetime enterprise." Nevertheless, the Indian influence is felt in New Bag's music today, especially with the recent addition of konnakol-trained Swiss vocalist Sarah Buechi to New Bag's ranks. "I've loved Indian music for a long time," says Doran. "I love the groove, the spirit and the time the musicians take to climb from zero to the climax."

New Bag became a quintet when Doran brought keyboard player Hans- Peter Pfammatter into the lineup, and two more CDs followed. Unfortunately, the band suffered a major upheaval when Kuratli took ill and died, at the age of 38. "It was a tragedy," says Doran. "It took some time before we were able to continue with another drummer."

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Belle Epoque

Belle Epoque

Between the Lines
2016

buy
XL Target

XL Target

Unit Records
2014

buy
Walkin' The Dog

Walkin' The Dog

Unit Records
2014

buy
 

A Tribute to Fab

Unit Records
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached Interviews
Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Camille Bertault: Unity in Diversity Interviews
Camille Bertault: Unity in Diversity
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: April 10, 2018
Read Chad Taylor: Myths and Music Education Interviews
Chad Taylor: Myths and Music Education
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 9, 2018
Read Fabian Almazan Interviews
Fabian Almazan
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: March 30, 2018
Read Ryuichi Sakamoto: Naturally Born to Seek Diversity Interviews
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Naturally Born to Seek Diversity
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 27, 2018
Read Leonardo Pavkovic: Nothing is Ordinary Interviews
Leonardo Pavkovic: Nothing is Ordinary
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Miles Mosley Gets Down!" Interviews Miles Mosley Gets Down!
by Andrea Murgia
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Nicole Johänntgen: Henry And The Free Bird" Interviews Nicole Johänntgen: Henry And The Free Bird
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Mica Bethea: Quintessential Band Geek" Interviews Mica Bethea: Quintessential Band Geek
by Barbara Salter Nelson
Published: January 29, 2018
Read "Chad Taylor: Myths and Music Education" Interviews Chad Taylor: Myths and Music Education
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 9, 2018