Featured Musician - May 2010

Name :Dan Duval

Dan Duval

Instrument: guitar

Early Years/Education:  I did play piano first when I was very young, but then my teacher got sick and died, so lessons stopped for awhile. My dad plays guitar for fun, so there were always guitars around the house, and I was always interested in it. When I was ten and finished with piano, I picked up the guitar and started playing more seriously. Then I did the standard suburban-American thing, and played in garage bands all through middle school and into high school. This was in Santa Clara, California. I didn't play any sports or structured activities, music was my main activity. My parents were always supportive. When I was seventeen I finished high school and spent two years at Berklee in Boston (2000-02). It was quite an overwhelming place but also rich in resources. My friend's older brother was going there. I heard some tapes of what the guys were doing, and I thought it was the best stuff  I'd ever heard. At that point in my life, I had yet to be exposed to Herbie Hancock or Miles Davis. My family was not into jazz at all, they liked rock. My mom was also musically inclined, she played flute in marching band in high school. 

When I was a junior I studied with a fantastic jazz player, Dave McGillicuddy. He turned me around and exposed me to great music. He'd hand-pick things he knew I'd like. He broke a lot of the misconceptions I had about jazz. My senior year was the first time I was in jazz band in high school, and I started to get some experience reading big band charts. It wasn't until I went to the Berklee College of Music, though, that I saw a young, thriving jazz community who were excited about jazz and thought of it as “drinking music.” Frankly, I think that culture is more alive on the east coast. After Berklee, I transferred to PSU and did four more years, then got my BA in Music with a Philosophy minor.

Bands: I have my own Dan Duval Sextet and am hoping to release a CD in the next six months. The Sextet includes Mary Sue Tobin on alto, Lee Elderton on soprano, alto and clarinet, Tom Garcia on tenor and bari saxes, Todd Bishop on drums and Joaquin Toler on bass. We play almost exclusively my tunes. I'm also in the Andrew Oliver Sextet, Todd Bishop's Pop Art 4, and “The Ocular Concern” (a trio with Andrew Oliver on keyboards and Steven Pancerev on drums). I also have a duo with tenor saxist Willie Matheis where we explore old standards, and a new quartet with Lee Elderton, bassist Bill Athens and Steve Pancerev.

Musical Influences: Tom Waits, Marc Ribot, Bill Frissel, Radiohead, The Beatles, Brad Mehldau, John Scofield, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Sufjan Stevens, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bireli Lagrene, Jim Hall, Chopin, Ravel, Reich, Debussy, Brahms, Sibelius, Beethoven, Bach, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchel, Wilco, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, John Hollenbeck's "Claudia Quintet"

Most Satisfying Experience: Getting to play with my friend's older brother, Graham Richards, after trying to follow in his footsteps musically. I got to play in his group at a big warehouse art party they had in Oakland, California. I was very young, it was a milestone for me because this was someone I idolized and then got to play with him on stage. More recently, recording this new album with the Andrew Oliver Sextet. This is the best release I've been involved in. And, last summer when we played at the PDX Pop Now! Festival, it was cool because we were one of the only jazz groups that played and these kids who came to hear rock really loved us.

Favorite Recordings: Brad Mehldau's “Largo”; “Visions of the Emerald Beyond” from Mahavishnu Orchestra; “Postizo” from Marc Ribot y los Cubanos Postizos; “The Bridge” and “Blues Dream” Sonny Rollins; Bill Frissel w/ Dave Holland and Elvin Jones; John Coltrane “Live at Birdland”; Miles Davis, “Cookin' at the Plugged Nickel” and “In a Silent Way”; “Talking Book,” Stevie Wonder; “White Album” and “Abbey Road,” The Beatles; “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” Joe Cocker; Ravel, “Complete Piano Music”; Donny Hathaway, “Live” (1972); and from Claudia Quintet, “Semi Formal,” “For” and “I, Claudia.”

Discography: Andew Oliver Sextet, “Otis Stomp” (2008) and “82% Chance of Rain” (2010); Todd Bishop's Pop Art 4 “69 Annee Erotique” (2009); and Drew Shoals “The Greatest Haven't Been Born Yet” (2008).

Gigs: I recently played at The Woods in Sellwood in Andrew Oliver's Sextet. It was a double bill with the indie rock band, A Cautionary Tale. I think it was a musically consistent evening ... putting a jazz group with an indie rock group. I would like to see more of that kind of split bill. As Andrew Oliver is fond of saying, “Indie rock fans don't know how close they are to being jazz fans.”
After touring the West Coast, playing the CD release show with the Andrew Oliver Sextet, and recording and gigging with my own sextet in April, May is a relatively quiet month for me. I'm playing with "The Ocular Concern" at the Camellia Lounge on May 6.

Future Plans: Keep making music for as long as possible! I'd like to make teaching for a living my sole support. I'd also like to release more albums, one to two a year. That would make me feel very productive. I'd also like to get grant money to help with musical projects.

Other: One reason the scene is so good in Portland is there's such a wide variety of musicians stylistically in this town, they're almost diametrically opposed, they're so different even if the players respect each other. 

The music industry is really wide open now because of the Internet. Radio has really been killed by the Internet. There's just such a wider range of music on-line. Radio is this hold-over from a previous era where they're playing what they think of as commercially successful music. When a radio station gets good numbers, how is that good for society? It's just another thing that's successfully become incorporated into the background noise of public life that's not culturally stimulating in any way. You'll have a radio on in your office, cafe or car. None of these times is when the listener is focused on music. Those are all times when the radio is putting out background noise, and I think society needs less background noise. For people who care passionately about music, the Internet has been the platform for a long time now.

-- by Rita Rega


Copyright 2009, Jazz Society of Oregon