January/February 1998

The Doky Brothers

Throughout the evolution of contemporary music in this century, no genre has benefited from as many creatively prolific musician families as has jazz. From the Jones Boys (Thad, Hank, Elvin) to the Marsalises, these dynasties have contributed mightily to the canon. While not yet in the pantheon, Danish siblings pianist Neils Lan and bassist Chris Minh Doky are clearly to this grand manor born. The progeny of ex-pop singing mother and classical guitarist father, Neils and Chris’ musical talents were nurtured throughout their childhood.

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The Doky Brothers

By adolescence, the duo turned professional, pursuing divergent musical paths before they hooked up and formed the Doky Brothers band in the early ’90s. “Our tastes are very different,” says Neils. “My tastes follow the chronological evolution of jazz, I started out with ragtime. My brother came to jazz from rock, his stuff is more rock-funk fusion.” After respective stints with major musicians like Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, John Scofield and Randy Brecker, the Doky brothers unified in ’96 for their self-titled debut on Blue Note. The Doky Brothers, a grooving melange of funky straightahead and pop-esque hooks, were greeted enthusiastically by both the fusion and contemporary jazz camps.

Neils and Chris’ latest release, Doky Brothers 2, ups the ante with it’s beguiling program of jazzy originals (“Silent Prayer,” “Reminiscence”) and re-modeled contemporary pop standards. Weaving emotive solos from singers Al Jarreau, Gino Vannelli and Dianne Reeves (“How Can I Help You Say Goodbye,” “Tender Lies,” “Waiting In Vain,” respectively) through the rhythmic fabric spun by guests Scofield, Brecker, David Sanborn, Bill Evans, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Alex Riel, Trilok Gurtu and Toots Thielmans, the Dokys have produced one multi-hued aural quilt.

Yeah, like their jazz family peers, the Doky Brothers have got something special going on. “What’s unique is we’re from Denmark but we’ve both lived in the U.S. in New York (Neils, eight years; Chris, nine years),” adds Neils. “We’re very influenced by the U.S. and Danish scenes, that combination makes us what we are—New York is powerful and aggressive, Denmark is folk music. Our music is ballads, lullabies, Scandinavian lyricism combined with New York energy.”

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