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Featured Musician - March 2006

Name: Tim Duroche

Instrument: drums, percussion

Early Years/Education: I started out as a fan, and didn't begin playing until my twenties, having discovered jazz at age fifteen. My Dad, who is a collage professor by trade, plays six or seven instruments and my older brothers were rock musicians. When I was eleven or twelve one brother took me to see Stephan Grapelli and my other brother took me to see Sun Ra. I could always see a connection between the two. I then started reading the stories and getting into the history of jazz as well as buying every type of jazz recording. I never studied music in college. I was given a drum set by my brother and learned to play in a way that is vanishing quickly...as an apprentice. I'd just show up at gigs and try and sit-in. I'd sit-in with seventy-year-old boogie-woogie pianists, jump-blues bands, bebop criminals, Russian circus clowns and Beijing Opera musicians. I spent four years with a hi hat, snare and brushes developing a singular approach to sound, rhythm, swing and space. My first big gig was with stride pianist Butch Thompson who is from St Paul. I'm from Minneapolis.

Writing: The first jazz piece I wrote was an interview with Max Roach while I was studying with him. I've been the jazz writer for Willamette Week since 2001. I argue for space to cover jazz every week. I also freelance for the Oregonian and this publication. I do graphic design and draw. In the past I've worked for the NW Film Center and currently work for the City Club of Portland. I'm also a contributing editor for the Portland-San Francisco online cultural calendar Strong Week. I moved to Portland in 2000 and started playing and writing immediately. I visited Portland many times before moving here. I love the camaraderie among the musicians and the sophistication of the audience. I feel my writing has credibility because I'm a player.

Musical Influences: Absolutely everything! Baby Dodds, Monk, O'Neal Spencer, Shadow Wilson, Dexter Gordon, Papa Jo Jones, Shelly Manne, Coleman Hawkins, Bill Evans, Davey Tough, Kenny Clarke, Bix Beiderbecke, Mel Lewis, the birthday boys: Art Blakey and Billy Higgins (we all share a b-day), Milford Graves, Andrew Hill, Ornette Coleman, Sunny Murray, Lester Young, Andrew Cyrille, Ed Blackwell, Vernel Fournier, Thurman Barker, Barry Altschul, Cecil Taylor, Ken McIntire, Teddy Wilson, Hamid Drake, Tony Oxley, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Wilbur Ware, and then some.

Most Satisfying Experience: It would have to be a trio gig at the Blue Monk (for twelve people) in 2004 with the great team of bassist Lisle Ellis (Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley, Peter Brotzmann) and pianist Paul Plimley (Barry Guy, Andrew Cyrille, etc.).
They're two of the finest pure improvisers the West Coast has ever produced. Rich, organic, wild, woolly, strange beautiful and full of surprise. Other experiences: an adhoc duo gig with German saxist Frank Gratkowski in 2004, any number of times with AACM pianist Carie Thomas back in Minneapolis, a 2004 performance/live recording with Oaklanders Scott Looney and Damon Smith at Polestar in Seattle and anytime I'm afforded the opportunity to make more conceptual sound/word pieces with my partner Lisa Radon.

Favorite Recordings: Here are a few off the top of my head, they'd probably change if you asked me tomorrow. Paul Bley, "Closer" and "Turning Point;" Bud Freeman "And his Summa Cum Laude Trio;" Shelley Manne, "2-3-4" and w/Bill Evans on "A Simple Matter of Conviction;" Roy Haynes, "Out of the Afternoon;" Omer Simeon w/Zutty Singleton, "Jazz A La Creole;" Cecil Taylor, "Unit Structures;" Milford Graves, "Anything;" Albert Ayler, "Ghosts" and "Spiritual Unity;" Ellington/Roach/Mingus, "Money Jungle;" Coleman Hawkins, "Sirius;" Jo Jones, "On Everest; " Jackie McLean, "Let Freedom Ring;" Tony Oxley, "Baptised Traveler;" Sonny Rollins, "East Broadway Rundown;" Dexter Gordon, "Go" and Ornette Coleman, "The Shape of Jazz to Come."

Discography: I've always been a live artist...there's lots in the can but nothing's been released yet.

Where Playing Currently: I'll be at the Tugboat Brewing Co. with saxophonist Jason Dumars and (when he's available) New Orleans transplant, bassist Nobu Ozaki on March 10, 16, and 25th. I'll be sitting in the drum chair at the Mississippi Pizza jazz jam on March 21.

Gigs Coming Up: At the Blue Monk on Friday, April 21 and in Astoria on April 20 with a trio featuring free jazz alto sax great, Wally Shoup from Seattle and local avant guitarist Doug Theriault; I'll be back with Nobu Ozaki and Jason Dumars on Thursday, April 27 at the Red & Black Café. This trio will offer up a strong forward pulse of bop and classic avant-garde openness. Other projects include a pairing with Aurora Josephson (a classically trained experimental vocalist from the Bay Area); a house concert hosted by winemaker/jazz-supporter Dave Grooters with Gordon Lee and Nobu Ozaki; in August I'm doing a four or five city tour in California with saxophonist Phillip Greenlief and bassist Damon Smith (both first-call mainstays on the Bay Area improve scene.

Future Plans: I'd love to be leading my own straight-ahead group...love working with standard material, there's so much to be mined! Would love to do a good piano trio recording, kind of an "in" and "out" thing.

Other: I love playing with really sympathetic musicians before an appreciative audience.

Ron Steen comment: "Tim's a really creative drummer, very inventive ...he has great hands and does remarkable things with brushes."

Interviewer's note: Tim takes jazz very seriously, he's outspoken and passionate. He's raised his love of jazz into an art form.


-- Interviewed by Rita Rega

Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon