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Doky Brothers

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The Doky Brothers were a straight-ahead mainstream jazz duo that emerged in the mid-'90s with a pair of albums for Blue Note. The group's music was straight out of the hard bop traditions of the '60s, balanced by flourishes of contemporary production and fusion. Natives of Copenhagen, Denmark, pianist Niels Lan Doky (b. October 3, 1963) and bassist Chris Minh Doky (b. February 7, 1969) are the product of a musical family; their father was a physician who played classical guitar, and their mother was a Danish pop singer. After spending a couple of years playing guitar, Niels switched to piano at the age 11, inspired by the Scott Joplin music that was featured in the hit Paul Newman/Robert Redford film The Sting. He gradually became acquainted with the major pianists in jazz history, and began playing professionally at the age of 13. Two years later, he played with trumpeter Thad Jones, who was in Denmark leading a big band on radio. Jones was impressed with Niels' skill and encouraged him to move to America. The trumpeter wrote a recommendation for the young pianist, which led to a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston for Doky. Between 1981 and 1984, Niels Lan Doky attended Berklee, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in professional music. During his time in Boston, he performed with Terri Lyne Carrington, Cyrus Chestnut and Branford Marsalis, among many others. Following graduation, he moved to New York, where he began playing gigs and sessions. After playing with Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw, he recorded his debut album, Here or There, for Storyville Records. It was the first of a series of solo records from Doky, who recorded for Storyville, Milestone, DAM/Maracatu, Soul Note, and Columbia. In 1989, Niels began touring as a co-leader with his brother Chris Minh Doky. Like his brother, Chris began playing music as a child, starting on piano before switching to bass at the age of 15. He initially played electric, moving to acoustic two years later when he discovered jazz. After spending some time studying with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, he moved to New York in 1988, intending to attend the Berklee College of Music. While in New York, he met and performed with a number of musicians, including Randy Brecker and John Scofield. One of his acquaintances, Jimmy Cobb -- a drummer who had formerly played with Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery -- convinced Chris to stay in New York and receive his education by playing in clubs. In 1989, Chris Doky recorded his first album, Appreciation, for Storyville Records and began touring with his brother as a co-leader. During the early '90s, the Doky Brothers continued to lead their own sessions as solo artists and tour as a team. Eventually, the pair decided to record together as the Doky Brothers. Their eponymous debut for Blue Note was produced by Pederson and featured guest appearances by trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Michael Brecker, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, guitarist Ulf Wakenius and singer Curtis Stigers. It was released in 1996 to good reviews and strong sales. Their second album was also produced by Pederson and featured guest performances by guitarist John Scofield, harmonica player Toots Thielemans, saxophonist David Sanborn, saxophonist Bill Evans, and trumpeter Randy Brecker. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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