Featured Musician - July 2009

Name : Charlie Doggett

Charlie Doggett

Instrument: drums.

Early Years/Education: My family moved around a lot throughout the state of Oregon. We lived in all small towns with no music programs to speak of. When I was really young, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen banging on coffee cans and lids. When I was five, my grandparents gave me a junior drum set that was really a toy with paper heads that I tore through right away. At age seven I started on violin and played in a youth orchestra in Grants Pass. This was my introduction to written music. A year later my parents bought me a real snare drum and high hat. I used a hassock for a base drum and spent hours playing to records. My mom had a good record collection, and she let me have at it. I listened to the Beatles, The Jackson Five, Elvis, Beach Boys, etc. My uncle played the trumpet and was very encouraging. He gave me my first drum lesson and showed me how to hold the sticks. He was left-handed so I played like a lefty, which messed me up for a while. He also gave me Steely Dan's album “Aja,” which blew my mind, still one of my favorite records.

My high school years were spent in Lincoln City. They had a band program, but nobody took it except me and five guys, but the teacher was great .... a real improviser. Band turned into a combo class, and I was the only drummer, which I loved, but the teacher left the next year and took most of the instruments with him. The school district could never raise the funds to bring music back. When I was fourteen, I got my first real drum kit and started playing on my own. These older guys asked me to join their group, I think they got my name from the guy who owned the record store in Lincoln City. We'd play casuals and taverns, I'd lug their equipment. I was making more money than any of my friends. We'd play dance music, top forty, covers, etc. I'll never forget the first time a guy showed me how to do a rim shot -- I was amazed.

After high school I migrated to Eugene and attended Lane Community College and eventually the University of Oregon. At Lane I showed up for a percussion class with my congas; I didn't know it was a classical percussion class. The first thing the teacher did was hand me a solo piece and a glockenspiel and tell me to go home and learn how to read. The teacher was a violist in the Eugene Symphony. He was great and worked with me. Within a semester I had received a full scholarship and was on my way. I got more into orchestral percussion and auditioned for the U. of O on timpani and marimba. I really wasn't involved with the jazz program there other than playing in combos. I studied with Chris Lee. I'd say he was my first real drum set teacher. I later studied with Alan Jones. Alan has been a great inspiration to me. I was also able to spend a lot of time with Gary Versace when he taught in Eugene. He really got me going on certain records and drummers to check out. He was very generous. I never finished my percussion degree and dropped out after three years. I changed my major a few times and kind of came full circle back to drum set playing. I eventually got a B.A. in Music

Dance Department: The other thing I was doing in Eugene was a lot of hand percussion for local bands and for the modern dance and the African dance classes. I was involved in the beginning of the African dance program at the university. It really grew. The university eventually hired me to teach hand percussion. I had some funding to bring in guest artists to teach and accompany dance classes. I got to work with Youssouff Koumbassa, Karamba Diabate, Mabiba Baegne, Jesus Alfonso, etc. The last guy I brought in was Paoli Mejias (Eddie Palmieri's conguero). I feel pretty good about developing that program.

Portland: Around 1997, I came up here to play PSU with a trio I was working in called Sangha. We were a full-on free jazz trio. At PSU I met Darrell Grant and he asked me to play in his trio, so I started commuting up here. We played a few festivals: Earshot, Mt. Hood, etc. That's what brought me to Portland initially. At the same time I was working at the Uptown Billiards Club with Dan Gildea. I love Portland, it's been great to me. I've thought about leaving, but I'm a third generation Oregonian, and my whole family is here. Currently, my main working unit is the Upper Left Trio -- pianist Clay Giberson's trio with Jeff Leonard on bass. We have three CDs on Origin. A couple of years ago I was contacted by a film company in the UK who used one of my tunes from our first CD in their film, “The Bedfordshire Clanger.” That really inspired me to keep writing. I'm also in a trio with saxophonist John Gross and pianist Dave Frishberg, our last gig was the Portland Jazz Festival. I work with David Evans's group called “Two Tenors” with David and Lee Wuthenow, Dave Frishberg, and Scott Steed (bass), doing the music of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. I also play with Bill Beach (piano) in his Brazil project, and with Greg Goebel (piano) and Tim Wilcox (saxophone). I do a lot of teaching privately and am also an adjunct professor for drum set and percussion at Clackamas Community College. I love working with Tom Wakeling out there, we had a Monday night jam session that lasted for over a year.

Musical Influences: As far as drummers go, it has to be Jack De Johnette first, then there's Art Blakey, Philly Jo Jones, Elvin Jones, Ray Haynes, Tony Williams, Billy Higgins, Paul Motion and Jon Christensen. I like guitarists a lot, especially Ralph Towner, Jim Hall, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Afro-Cuban music has been an influence. The music of Los Menequitos de Matanzas, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, and many others. I had the
Smithsonian Folkways record, “Sacred Rhythms of Cuban Santeria.” That really knocked me out, and I've gone on to learn some of that music.

Most Satisfying Experience: Getting to play with bassist Glen Moore. This was a big deal for me because when I was in high school, I had my own band with my peers. My guitarist's parents were both artists and really into Miles and Coltrane and also the group Oregon. They'd spin records for us, and I got hooked on the music of Oregon right away. It really spoke to me, I'm a huge Ralph Towner fan. So when I got to actually play with Glen, that was really great. And, on that same level, working with Dave Friesen is a big deal for me -- he's so unique and original. So many of my heroes have recorded with him, like Paul Motion. I'm on his most recent CD, “Five and Three.”

Favorite Recordings: Miles Davis “Relaxin” and “In Europe”; Keith Jarrett “Changes” and “My Song”; Ahmad Jamal Trio “But Not For Me”; Sonny Rollins “Freedom Suite” and “A Night at the Village Vanguard”; Chic Corea “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”; Coltrane “A Love Supreme”; Metheny “Rejoicing”; Paul Motion Trio “One Time Out”; Oscar Peterson “Plays the Cole Porter Songbook”; John Abercrombie Trio “Gateway”; Wayne Shorter “Speak No Evil” and “Adam's Apple”; Oregon “Out of the Woods”; Ralph Towner “Batik”; Bobo Stensen Trio “War Orphans”; Ornette Coleman “The Shape of Jazz to Come”; Kenny Werner Trio “Beat Degeneration”; and Han Bennink “Tempo Comodo.”

Discography: With David Friesen, “Five and Three”; Upper Left Trio, “Three,” “Sell Your Soul Side,” and “Cycling”; Sangha Trio, “Frantically, Frantically Being at Peace”; Cheryl Hodge, “Indigo”; Stephanie Schneiderman, “Unbelievably Unbroken,” “Live at Kung Fu Bakery”; Michalangela, “Portland Rain”; Jared Burrows Quartet, “Northern Exposure”; John Gross, Dave Frishberg, Charlie Doggett, “Strange Feeling”; and Cosmic Dust, “Step Right Up.”

Gigs: Saturday, June 27: w/Karla Harris at the Heathman; Tuesday, August 11: w/Mia Nicholson at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden; Saturday, August 22: w/David Friesen at Jimmy Mak's; Saturday, September 26: w/David Evans, Lee Wuthenow, Dave Frishberg, Scott Steed in Bend; October 1-2 w/John Gross and Dave Frishberg in Ashland.

Future Plans: To try and write more. I just bought a bass and am trying to write from the bottom up, which is a major change for me. About writing, Alan Jones once told me, if you can't get it down in fifteen minutes you're wasting your time!

Other Comments: I love original music and being a sideman. I love to try and capture what the writer wants; it's like a puzzle. I try and put my original approach to their music. I just love that process.

-- by Rita Rega


Copyright 2009, Jazz Society of Oregon