Testimonials

Long-time cohorts in Portland, Oregon, guitarists/bassists David Martin and Mike Doolin teamed up on the well-regarded Reflection (2009), and in 2014, repeated the collaboration on Tough Commute. (Once Martin relocated to the Twin Cities a few years ago, their collaboration required a “tough commute.”) The duo didn’t wait so long this time, as their new Dark Star will be celebrated at five different Twin Cities venues in five days, starting at the Icehouse on November 28, and wrapping up at Jazz Central on December 2. And if that’s not enough guitar, Mike and Dave will hold a guitar-building and repair workshop on December 3 at the St Paul Guitar Center.

The Musicians

David Martin was born in Toledo, OH and grew up in Charleston, WV. He graduated from Capital University’s Conservatory of Music in Columbus, OH. A composer, arranger, teacher, and performer, he played in the Columbus area for several years before moving to Minneapolis, where he lived for 13 years. In the Twin Cities, Dave led his own jazz trio and also played in Nachito Herrera’s Puro Cubano, Beira Mar Brasil, Latin Sounds Orchestra, Salsa Del Soul, Robert Everest and Havana Hi-Fi.  In 2009, Dave moved to Portland, OR where he teamed up with Mike Doolin, releasing Reflections. Back in the Twin Cities since 2010, Dave has accompanied many local vocalists including Maryann Sullivan and Paula Lammers, and performs regularly with Salsa del Soul, Beira Mar Brasil, the Bill Simenson Orchestra and Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra.

“He was literally the first person I met out there,” notes David Martin of his collaboration with Mike Doolin during his year in Portland, “and we do a lot of the same stuff. We play the same instruments, we write at least in similar ways, and we like all the same people.”

Dark Star

The Doolin/Martin partnership has again yielded a disc of original music recorded in Portland in Doolin’s studio, House of Doolescu. And as on the previous recordings, both Dave and Mike play acoustic and electric guitars, acoustic and electric bass, with support from Ward Griffiths on drums. Twin Cities percussionist and conguero Shai Hayo appears on two tracks; pianist George Mitchell and organist Louis Pain appear together on one track. A welcome part of the packaging is the listing of each track’s string instrumentation including the order of solos.

“I think pretty much all our CDs have been in kind of the same realm where we each write separately and then we get together in Portland, whether I was living there or not,” says Dave. “And then because Mike and I both play guitar and bass, everything starts as a trio [with Ward Griffiths] and goes from there, and then if we want to add musicians we do. Shai Hayo, a percussion player from here from Salsa del Soul, is on a couple tracks, and will be on most of the gigs coming up [in the Twin Cities].”

There is some consistency in the structure of each track: “Generally, whoever wrote the song is doing the melody, and we’ll start recording as a trio with guitar, bass and drums, and then the second person adds the other guitar. We broke that rule a couple times. He wrote a song called ‘Brother Dave’ for me on the new CD where I do all the melody. I wrote a song called ‘Go Ahead Mike’ on the new CD, which is all him. I’m just strumming acoustic guitar through the whole thing. So we break the rule occasionally, but generally that’s how we do it.” And it works, and as noted above, the listener can quickly identify who is doing what, on what instrument.

Dark Star covers 11 original tunes, six from Martin and five from Doolin, most performed with a combination of electric and acoustic instruments. All electric tracks include Martin’s opening “Give the Drummer Some” and “Writers’ Block, somewhat grungy rockish tunes that seems perfectly designed for the usual Icehouse vibe, with both guitarists soloing on electric and Martin also adding electric bass to the first track. On Doolin’s “Spring Came Early,” with Mike on electric guitar and Dave on electric bass, the feel is far more relaxed and tropical; Dave’s solo bounces with delight.

Dave’s “Coeur D’Alene” is appears in two different arrangements, the first as a trio for electric guitar and acoustic bass guitar with Griffiths on drums, the second (and final track) an all-acoustic guitar duo, with Dave on nylon string, Mike on steel string. Both versions offer elegant, balladic interpretations as the strings weave in and out, the first melding guitar with bass and brushes a darker reading, the second a lighter, more Latin leaning track — both sparkling demonstrations of these artists’ gifts of exquisite restraint.

The rest of the album further demonstrates the breadth of Martin and Doolin as composers and performers who bring out the best in each other. Doolin’s title track hints at Martin’s affinity for Brazilian music, while Doolin’s “Brother Dave” (with Pain on organ, Mitchell on piano) is a bit snarky and churchy at the same time. Extra string power dominates Martin’s “Go Ahead Mike,” as Dave brings out the 12-string acoustic guitar along with the six-string and both add electric bass, Hayo doubles on percussion here, with congas and shakere. More voltage translates Doolin’s “Dad in a Cad Car” into an adventure soundtrack as electric guitars team up with acoustic bass and steel string. Alternating electric guitars and acoustic bass guitars, Doolin’s “The Missle Room” skips along brightly like a 70s instrumental Top 40 hit, while Martin’s “System,” with his squealing electric,Doolin’s bubbling basslines, and Griffiths’ pounding antics, suggest the “innovations” introduced by Marty McFly to his unsuspecting Back to the Future classmates. In the 21st century, of course, we’re ready, and we love it.

CD Release Celebrations

CD release celebrations this week in the Twin Cities feature Martin, Doolin, Jim Chenoweth on bass, Pete Hennig on drums, and except for the Black Dog gig, Shai Hayo on percussion:

  • Monday, November 28, at the Icehouse (9:30 pm, 2528 Nicollet Av S., Minneapolis)
  • Tuesday, November 29, at the Black Dog (8 pm, 308 E. Prince Street, St Paul)
  • Wednesday, November 30, at Vieux Carre’ (8 pm, 408 St Peter Street, St Paul)
  • Thursday, December 1, at the Driftwood Charbar (4415 Nicollet Av S, Minneapolis
  • Friday, December 2, at Jazz Central Studios (8 pm, 407 Central SE, Minneapolis)

Mike and Dave present their guitar building and repair workshop at the St. Paul Guitar Studio on Saturday, December 3 and 4 pm (308 E. Prince Street, St Paul).

Copies of Dark Star will be available at the CD release celebrations and online at CD Baby.

‘Dark Star’ CD Review at Jazzpolice.com by Andrea Canter

Fantastic!
by bionictangerine

I’ve been a fan of Mike Doolin for about a year now – and this album, which he recorded with his pal David Martin – is not to be missed out on. These two are fantastic live, and if you miss a chance to see them together, you’ll kick yourself. They both have amazing guitar and bass playing skills, and make everything look effortless, natural and joyful. “Reflection” features songs written by each of them, and is as rich and rewarding as the best first cup of coffee you’ve ever had waking up to the sun after a night of hard rain. It’s eclectic enough for every section of your favorite sunday newspaper. David Martin currently calls West Virginia home, while Mike Doolin is in Portland, Oregon; so your opportunity to see either one of them is currently coastal. They do get together though, so keep an eye out. The whole album is a must-have, but I’m currently digging “Riane,” “Sumb Thumb,” and “B Movie Love Theme.” A set of 11 very happy discoveries. ‘Reflection’ CD Review on iTunes by bionictangerine

‘Reflection’ CD Review on iTunes by bionictangerine

“There is nothing negative i can say about the music. I am very impressed! You should be very proud. This CD is beautifully produced, creative, and well conceived. I might add the engineering was spot-on, too. I enjoyed the different aural aspects of the instrumentation. The inventive sound effects on the guitars are a treat. This is a mature, confident, professional project. The execution, meaning the playing, is excellent. Really, I can’t say anything negative at all, just a great group of songs played superbly. I have to admit that my mind wandered a bit on some of the solos. I wouldn’t call it overplaying or “noodling”. I chalk it up to my own short attention span. The artists that came to mind while I listened are Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, Lee Ritenour and yes, Frank Zappa. I love the modern feel to this, the “fusion” feel of jazz with rock. I know that’s nothing new, but this CD felt new and inspired. The innovative rhythm interested me a lot. I like to be challenged. All in all, a very satisfying listen. the CD will be in my car. I will listen to it as much as “There and Back” by Jeff Beck or “Wes Bound” by Ritenour. I will also recommend this CD to friends I think will enjoy this. My favorite tunes are “B” Movie Love Theme, Sumb Thumb, Red State, and Fool Me Once. That’s from the first listen. I’m sure i will find more to like. Thank you for the privilege to listen and give my review. Much appreciated.” -January 3, 2011 ‘Reflection’ CD Review by Jerome Lawrence Beckley

‘Reflection’ CD Review by Jerome Lawrence Beckley

Saturday, August 30, 2014. If you missed one of last week’s CD release events for David Martin and Mike Doolin’s new Tough Commute, you have more opportunities! This afternoon, Mike leads a guitar-making workshop at Jazz Central. Anyone interested in woodworking and instrument building will be fascinated by Mike’s demonstration and discussion of the work of the luthier, and he brought along a small arsenal of guitars for demonstration. A few hours later, Mike and Dave, with Chris Bates and Peter Hennig, perform the music of the new recording and beyond in the Jazz Central Studio’s intimate performance space. If it’s anything like the music performed at the Icehouse and Black Dog last week, it will be one of the highlights of your week. Or month. ‘Tough Commute’ CD Release Promo at jazzink.blogspot.com by Andrea Canter

‘Tough Commute’ CD Release Promo at jazzink.blogspot.com by Andrea Canter

Long-time cohorts in Portland, Oregon, guitarists/bassists David Martin and Mike Doolin teamed up on the well-regarded Reflection (2009). Once Martin relocated to the Twin Cities a few years ago, their collaboration required a “tough commute.”  Determined to make another recording of their original music, recounts Doolin, Martin “loaded up the van with all his guitars and amps and drove the 1,729 miles back to the House of Doolescu in Portland. He had just 17 days in Portland, and we put the time to good use, recording 11 original tunes.” The result, Tough Commute, will be celebrated throughout the Twin Cities over the next two weeks, with Doolin now making the long drive to join Martin, along with local pals Chris Bates and Pete Hennig. The release events begin Monday, August 25 with a 9 pm show at the Icehouse in south Minneapolis, followed by gigs at the 318 Cafe, State Fair,  Black Dog, Jazz Central and Hell’s Kitchen (see schedule below). At Jazz Central, the CD celebration will be preceded by Doolin’s guitar-making workshop.

David Martin was born in Toledo, OH and grew up in Charleston, WV. He graduated from Capital University’s Conservatory of Music in Columbus, OH. A composer, arranger, teacher, and performer, he played in the Columbus area for several years before moving to Minneapolis, where he lived for 13 years. In the Twin Cities, Dave led his own jazz trio and also played in Nachito Herrera’s Puro Cubano, Beira Mar Brasil, Latin Sounds Orchestra, Salsa Del Soul, Robert Everest and Havana Hi-Fi.  In 2008, Dave moved to Portland, OR where he teamed up with Mike Doolin, releasing Reflections. Back in the Twin Cities since 2010, Dave has accompanied many local vocalists including Maryann Sullivan and Paula Lammers, and performs regularly with the Bill Simenson Orchestra and Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra.

Mike Doolin is a guitarist based in Portland, OR. He studied at Mt. Hood Community College and North Texas State University. With 4 decades of experience, he has performed with such Northwest mainstays as Mel Brown, Shirley Nanette, Soul Vaccination, Mitzi Zilka, LaRhonda Steel, The Flying Stickleys, Margo Tufo, Gary Ogan, Nancy Conescu, Body and Soul, Robert
Rude, and Cruise Control. Mike is also an internationally respected guitar maker who founded Doolin Guitars in 1995, and worked for about 17 years as a solo luthier, crafting handmade acoustic guitars for recording artists Esperanza Spalding, Muriel Anderson, John Stowell, Justin King and Nancy Conescu. As a bassist as well as guitarist, Mike has explored ways to merge the two instruments via the harp guitar, which he began building in 2006. In 2013, Mike switched to the seven-string guitar which provides extended bass range for duo performance. He’s also discontinued his luthier business to concentrate again on performance.

Tough Commute

For their new recording, Martin and Doolin again called upon Ward Griffiths for drum support, as on the earlier Reflections. Pianist Mike Horsfall appears on one track. Doolin served as recording engineer at his studio, House of Doolescu, in Portland. The eleven tracks are all originals, with Martin contributing six tunes, Doolin five, covering a wide range of styles from swing and bebop to fusion, funk and Latin. Versatile in many ways, both musicians handle a variety of guitars and basses throughout.

Martin’s “25304” (his old zipcode in West Virginia?) leads off the album, a tale of adventure and anticipation whipped into a frenzied state by Griffiths drumming. Dave’s title track (reprised on the finale) has a playful and somewhat sinister vibe that conjures cars weaving in and out of lanes and the congestion of freeway back-ups, the musicians cycling through phases of acceleration and deceleration. The longest track of the album, Martin’s “Laughter and Forgetting” is an extended conversation among the strings, supported by a steady percussion pulse. The dialogue becomes increasingly complex as heavier use of pedal effects creates more and more layers of sound. “You Know” is a more ambient adventure with fusiony harmonies. “Doolescued” (Martin) is one of a couple tunes that smack seriously of bebop, and in this case, recalling Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo.” It’s an up-tempo burner, bass walking furiously and guitar/drums gleefully trading. Dave’s “Yes, No, Maybe” is bright and upbeat, a jazzy fusion jaunt peppered by engaging drums and cymbals that drive the strings.

Of Mike Doolin’s compositions, “Compromise” has a steady marching rhythm yet also a pastoral feel, gentle and melodic. More adventurous, “Kenai” nevertheless has a more tropical than Arctic feel. “GMO” features pianist Mike Horsfall, and delivers a beboppish, upbeat weaving of bass and guitar. “My Favorite Martin” has a catchy them apparently honoring Doolin’s musical partner.

The recording closes with Doolin’s “Long Distance” cleverly melded to a reprise of Martin’s “Tough Commute.” What starts as a sweet meander soon becomes an ominous journey thanks to pedal effects, and ultimately that tough commute over-runs the earlier reverie. ‘Tough Commute’ CD Review at Jazzpolice.com by Andrea Canter

‘Tough Commute’ CD Review at Jazzpolice.com by Andrea Canter