Take Five With Dan Dorff

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Daniel Joseph Dorff: Dan Dorff is a drummer, percussionist and keyboardist who specializes in styles ranging from jazz, blues, gospel and folk to rock, pop, afro-cuban, brazilian and other dance genres. The depth of Dan's musical interests has sparked a performing career that has led him to 4 continents and over 25 countries and keeps him in demand as a performer, arranger and producer.

He has toured, performed, and/or recorded with: Daniel Martin Moore, STOMP, Deal's Gone Bad, the Toasters, Haley Bonar, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Nick Lachey's Team Cincinnati on NBC, Don Rickles, Rusty Burge, Harry Pickens, Ben Sollee, Bill Cunliffe, Steve Hoskins, Tessa Souter, the Jazz Circle, Dick Sisto, Brad Goode, Mike Scharfe, Bob Bodley, Art Gore, Dave Samuels, Roy Haynes' Fountain of Youth Band, Marcus Strickland, Bud Shank, Slide Hampton, Bill Watrous, and Dave Liebman.

As a percussionist, Dan specializes in Afro Cuban, Brazilian, and West African music and instruments. He has employed these styles and instruments as a dance accompanist with the Hubbard Street Dance Company, the Merce Cunningham dance company, Sean Curran, Maureen Fleming, Bill T. Jones-Arnie Zane Company, Judith Mikita, Shellie Cash, and Constance Dinapoli of the Paul Taylor Company, the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cynthia Riesterer and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Interlochen Arts Center, The Aspen Santa-Ballet, the Interlochen Faculty Dance Ensemble, and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

In addition to his career as a performer, Dan has served as Music Director, Pianist and Choir Director for Saint Agnes Church in Cincinnati; Music Director of the Over the Rhine Steel Drum Band, and Music Director for the Portland Percussion Project.

Dan currently resides in Chicago and works from his home in Logan Square as an arranger, producer, composer, and teacher.



Teachers and/or influences?

I've always been around music and musicians. My father is a guitarist and singer and ran a small recording studio in my hometown in Ohio. He and his brothers were all working musicians and listening to them rehearse in the studio adjacent to our house was as routine as mealtimes. I was introduced at a young age to Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson and Horace Silver. Dad, a guitarist by trade, had an infectious love for the harmonic vocabularies of the great jazz pianists. (imagine him laughing wildly while punching at the imaginary keys) Not surprisingly his love for the harmonic language of jazz drew him to their sources in french impressionist composers such as Ravel and Debussy as well as Chopin, Liszt, and Scriabin. Armed with these sounds I worked to imitate them at the piano. I was also inspired by the artists that came to record at dad's studio. Great Cincinnati area musicians such as Cal Collins, Kenny Poole, Art Gore, Jimmy McGary, John Von Ohlen, and Steve Schmidt visited regularly. Later John Von Ohlen, best known for his work with the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman bands as well as Cincinnati native Rosemary Clooney became my drumming guru during my years in College. Rusty Burge my primary teacher who I studied classical music with, also shared my love for improvisation and expanded my musical horizons immeasurably.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I can't recall my first inspirations to be a musician. It was always completely obvious to me where my interests lay and doing anything but music for a living seemed absurd. I always thought of it as a noble pursuit and something that somehow transcended everything else. This idealistic view of my vocation as a musician, though it gets bruised and battered daily in the runaround of conceiving, practicing, marketing, and selling mine and the music of others is stronger than ever.

Your sound and approach to music:


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