October 2, 2018 Artist to Watch: Doug Stone
Welcome to the neighborhood:
Assistant Professor Of Jazz Studies
College of Music and Dramatic Arts,
Louisiana State University.
What brought you to Baton Rouge and when did you arrive?
I am the new assistant professor of jazz studies at LSU. I am following in the footsteps of the legendary Bill Grimes. I am humbled by the opportunity to take over this position after Bill's 34 years at LSU. My family and I lived in Rochester, New York, for 9 years. I taught in the Rochester City School District, at the Eastman Community Music School, and performed in Western New York. I had assumed I would continue those activities for another 20 years or so, but this new door at LSU opened up, quite unexpectedly! I am originally from Peoria, Illinois, and my wife and I lived in Chicago until 2009.
Although my family and I officially moved to Baton Rouge on July 1, 2018, I participated in the Hot Summer Nights concerts at LSU in June 2018. So, I eased myself into Baton Rouge over the course of a few weeks.
What are your thoughts on the music opportunities in Baton Rouge?
I have spent most of my time since July getting settled into life at LSU. On the Hot Summer Nights concerts, I was thrilled to perform with Bill Grimes, Willis Delony, and Brian Shaw from LSU. Hot Summer Nights also offered me the opportunity to work with some of Baton Rouge's many fine musicians - Troy Davis, Patrick Bordelan, Quiana Lynell, and Phillip Manuel. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing with musicians whose roots are planted in the vibrant Louisiana music scene. I had conversations with drummer Troy Davis about the Baton Rouge and New Orleans jazz scene. Troy has played with many of my jazz heroes, who also have Louisiana roots, and it was great to get an inside view of that history, tradition, and culture. Of course Southern University has produced so many wonderful jazz musicians as well. Alvin Batiste, who taught at SU for many years, is a jazz legend, and I have enjoyed learning about the history of the SU jazz program from Baton Rouge trumpet player John Gray, who is doing some graduate work at LSU this year. I was also honored to play on an LSU faculty recital in September and hear the talents of many LSU faculty members.
I am looking forward to deepening my own Baton Rouge roots as I take advantage of as many performance opportunities as I can in here in my new home. I will be playing on Brian Shaw's Cool Winter Nights at the Manship Theater in December, and I am excited to meet the Baton Rouge based members of that ensemble.
How has your career path shaped you for this position at Louisiana State University?
I have had opportunities to interact with thousands of musicians in my life, from beginners to the some of the most accomplished jazz musicians to ever live. The majority of those musicians, and the ones who I respect the most, never stop trying to learn and grow as musicians. I think there is a continuum from the earliest stages to the most advanced stages of jazz improvisation and everyone who pursues jazz playing is somewhere on that continuum. The musicians I have met who are further along in their development than me have always been excited to share what they have learned and how they have approached their practice. I really enjoy discussing my approach to practice and musical growth with others. Jazz music and jazz improvisation is so complex, detailed, sophisticated, subtle, and fascinating, that it draws musicians in and becomes a lifetime pursuit and even an obsession for many. I have tried to take my personal study and performance of jazz music as seriously as possible since I was 9 years old. I hope that the work I have done over those years has prepared me to help move LSU jazz students further along the continuum of jazz playing.
Who are your musical influences?
In 1988 my dad took me to see Maynard Ferguson at Kewanee High School in Kewanee, IL. Although Maynard's playing was a highlight of the performance, I really enjoyed seeing and hearing the saxophonists in the band, and I started studying saxophone a few weeks later. In 2004 I joined Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau! So, Maynard, who influenced me to play jazz in the first place, became my "boss"! My dad had a wonderful jazz record collection - Maynard, Buddy Rich, Miles Davis, Stanley Turrentine, Dexter Gordon, Tower of Power, Sly and Family Stone, The Yellowjackets. My teachers in Peoria, IL, were fabulous players - Dave Parkinson and Larry Harms. I was inspired by all the teachers at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the faculty at Northern Illinois University, and later at the Eastman School of Music. I love many styles of music. Particular saxophone players I have been inspired by are Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, Joshua Redman, Dave Liebman, and Tony Malaby.
What do you like about the culture of Baton Rouge?
Food! I am a family man, so a family-friendly culture is my top priority. We live in Shenandoah. Our neighbors are kind, generous, helpful, and supportive. My six-year-old son David has a fabulous teacher at Shenandoah Elementary. My three-year-old son Dylan loves the BREC "tiny tots" program. And my 18-month-old son Derek loves the weather (he likes to go shirtless)! My wife is a photographer and has enjoyed the beautiful nature in the Baton Rouge area.
Do you have any upcoming events where people can see you perform live?
Please visit my website for more details, but, here are some upcoming events:
Most Mondays and Fridays I play duo with LSU student pianist Chris Coriel at the Faculty Club at LSU from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (open to the public)
There is an LSU jazz showcase concert on Tuesday, October 9, at 7:30 p.m.
I am playing with the Chris Coriel Quartet at Yvette Marie's on Thursday, October 18, at 8 p.m.
There is an LSU Jazz Ensemble and Lab Band concert on Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m.
I am playing with Brian Shaw's Big Band at the Manship Theatre on December 10, 11, and 12