The Doug Carn Trio
DOUG CARN – Biography
Jazz critic Leonard Feather said in his Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies, that Doug Cam was destined
from birth to be a part of the world of music. His mother, Gwendolyn Seniors Cam, taught music in the public
schools in St. Augustine, Florida and played piano and organ.
His Uncle Bill Seniors, was a jazz aﬁcionado and Be-bop DJ. Gwendolyn had played with Dizzy Gillispie on
two occasions and Bill was a close ﬁ’iend of Stanley Turrentinc and Shirley Scott. Doug’s step-dad Joseph Wait—
man didn’t mind driving a bunch of teenagers all over the Southeast. These three people and their resources helped
Doug tremendously in his early development as an artist and a young man.
The multi-faceted talents of pianist—organist—lyricist Doug Cam began to emerge onto the contemporary Afri-
can—American music scene during his teenage years. His group the “Nu—Tones” played a variety of dances, proms
and club dates during his high school years in St. Augustine, Florida.
On occasion they would back up acts like “Little Willic John” or open up shows in venues from Miami to
Charleston that featured acts like the Five Royals and the Chantels. The Nutones auditioned for the Ted Mack
Amateur Hour on the same day that President Kennedy was assassinated. The band’s rendition of “Blue Moon”
was deemed “toojazzy.”
Strongly inﬂuenced by the tradition of hard swinging, blues based “jump” bands from the Florida School for
the Deaf and Blind that existed for more than a decade in the wake of the Great Ray Charles, Doug Cam started to
forge a very special conception and mental picture of what Black music, jazz and the velocity of swing was all
After studying the oboe at Jacksonvillc University, Doug went to Georgia State College in Atlanta. During the
next few years Doug’s expertise on the Hammond B-3 organ took a giant “leap” forward as he literally “sat at the
feet” of practically all of the great jazz organ masters. This was due to the fact that ”Paschal ’s La Carousel ” peri-
odically brought in Jimmy Smith and the “Bird Cage” always presented artists like Jimmy McGril’f, Charles
Earland, Groove Holmes, Shirley Scott, Chester Thompson, Trudy Pitts, Gloria Coleman, Lonnie Smith,
Jack McDuff, Johnny Hammond Smith and Rhoda Scott.
This environment, along with the dynamics of the civil rights struggle and the Aﬁ‘ican-American “Black Cul—
tural Revolution,” provided a fertile ground for Doug’s continuing musical development. By the date of his eight—
eenth birthday, Doug had released his ﬁrst LP “The Doug Carn Trio” on the Savoy label.
It was shortly after this time that Doug met Jean who was studying at Morris Brovm College. Her outstanding
vocal abilities soon landed her the position of featured vocalist with the Doug Cam Trio.
Jean’s perfect intonation and phenomenal range, made her voice the perfect vehicle for the ideas that Doug was
in the process of developing. These ideas were centered around the expansion of the jazz vocal repertoire in the
direction of more contemporary writing standards established by modern “players” and composers like, Coltrane,
Silver, Davis, Shorter, Morgan, Hutcherson and Tyner.
Doug and Jean soon developed a personal relationship as well and embarked on a creative adventure that was
destined to set a “new standard” and become a “benchmark” for dozens of other great artists in future decades.
During the hey-day of the Vietnam era and the months after the assassination of Dr. King, Doug and .l can and a
score of “jazz” artists ﬁom the Greater Atlanta area migrated to southern California in search of greater opportuni-
ties and recognition. These artists included people like Sidney Miller, Jr., Doc Soul Stirrer, Kiesa Brown, Billy
Mitchell, John and Mike Bolivar, the Mighty Hannibal and Dee Dee Cantrell, as well as Fred Wesly, George
Harper and Ernest Vantrease. Doug soon found himself living in the same apartment building with Earth Wind
and Fire, Mandrill, the Chambers Brothers, Janis Joplin, Famous Amos, the soon to be Reverend “Ike,” and
Ruth Buzzi of Laugh—In fame, who often babysat for Doug and Jean.
Because of this particular “Landmark” location in Hollywood, people like Joe Zawvinul, Larry Young Jr.,
Tony Williams and other celebrated “sidemen” were occasional guests for gigs at Shelly’s Manhole.
It was during this time that Doug and Jean recorded two albums, the first two on Warner Bros, with Earth
Wind and Fire. Shortly afterwards, Doug recorded his first album for the newly formed Black Jazz label. That al-
bum Infant Eyes, was an underground hit and caused much controversy as related to the politics of jazz and the
appropriation of j azz by the “white” establishment of the time. However, Doug’s fan base continued to grow
worldwide and all of his recordings of this period made the best seller charts ofBillboard, Record World and Cash
Box magazines. In 1974 according to Billboard Magazine, Doug Carn sold more records than Dave Brubeck and
By the time of Doug’s fourth LP for Black Jazz “Adam’s Apple”, Doug had performed to the largest audience
in the history of the Village Gate and had made his Carnegie Hall debut.
Also, during this same period, Doug and Jean Carn had “broken up” and gone their separate ways as husband
and wife and performers. Jean went on to record a series of “hits” with Gambel and Huff on Philadelphia Interna-
tional Records and with Motown as Doug struggled to maintain his balance and recover.
During the next few years a fundamental change began to take place in the Black Community, on the cultural
level, that is. This change was basically a move away from overtly Afro-centric themes. This change was primarily
due to two factors, the greater integration of American Society as a whole and the subsequent decline of the devel-
opment of Black institutions by Blacks for Blacks. Therefore, artists like Doug Cam, Pharaoh Saunders, Leon
Thomas, Olu Dara, Carlos Garnette, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridewater and McCoy Tyner suffered greatly
except those who were willing and or able to change to a more “straight ahead” or “standard” direction.
Around this time, perhaps a decade or more, Doug practically ceased to perform as a band leader and worked
mostly as a sideman with artists like Stanley Turrentine, Hank Crawford, Charlie Rouse, Junior Cook, Nat
Adderly, Monk Montgomery, Houston Person, Marlena Shaw and Frank Morgan.
Then all of a sudden, a bunch of “new school” organ players started to appear. Eugene Ludwig, came out with
an album in 1975 and Downbeat magazine ﬁnally took the organ out of the miscellaneous category in its music
polls. Now the Hammond B-3 organ groove had more or less “crossed over” and was gaining a new sense of popu-
larity. Doug wasted no time in taking advantage of this new situation. For here we have a bunch of new kids on the
block getting all of this “recognition” for what he and his peers had done already twenty years earlier. The show
went on the road. First with the U Street project, with Wallace Roney, Gary Thomas, and drummer Steve Wil-
liams at the One Step Down in Washington, DC. Then a ﬁve nation European tour ofSweden, Poland, Austria,
Germany and Italy. These shows as well as s Doug’s two performances at the Jazz Cafe’ in London and the Hip-
Bop organ grooves CD re—established Doug Carn on the world stage. Also during this period all of Doug’s Black
Jazz recordings were reissued on CD in the US, England and Japan.
New in his prime Doug Carn works out of Palm Coast, Florida and Savannah, Georgia producing and perform-
ing shows in “his own” venues and Jazz festivals with artists Curtis Fuller, Eddie Henderson, Antonio Hart,
Vincent Gardner, Charles Tolliver, Bill Pierce, Frank Lacey, Bill Saxton, Danny Mixon, Andy McCloud,
Dave Valentin, Fred Wesley, Gioeoma Gates, Freddie Cole, Bobby Watson and Javon Jackson.
Some of these artists like Laika Fateen appeared with Doug at his club, Adagio in Savannah. Others came to
Florida for the Northeast Florida Jazz Association, NEFJA.org, of which Doug is the vice president.
There have also been gigs with Kent Jordan, Marlon Jordan, Stephanie Jordan, Bunky Greene, Ernestine
Anderson, Benny Golson, Freddie Hubbard, Vanessa Rubin and Vincent Herring. A special note should also
be given to club dates in New York with Cindy Blackmail, at the Iridium, Lenny White at Birdland, Kenny
Garrett and Joey D. Francesso at S.O.B.’s, and Ben Dixon and Sonny Simmons at the Jazz Standard.
Then came the Big Band and Oliver N elson Jr. Always moving forward Doug established his ﬁrst big band in
Savannah, Georgia, shortly after 9/ l 1. After realizing that there were practically no big bands being led by an or-
gan, Doug discovered that Oliver Nelson’s son had most of the arrangements done by his father for Jimmy Smith
during the Verve Years. This exciting music has been rarely performed and has formed the basis of the Doug Cam
Big Band repertoire. With the talented Dr. Oliver Nelson, Jr. conducting and playing ﬂutes. Doug performed to
highly enthusiastic audiences at the 2009 Savannah Jazz Festival and in 2010 in San Jose for the San Jose Jazz
Association, where Doug played and conducted.
But there is more. After all of this time, more than 35 years, Doug and Jean have re-unitedl First at Spelman
College in Atlanta, September 22, 2010, then for the Central Brooklyn J azz Consortium, December 30, 2010 and in
Daytona Beach, Florida, January 23, 2011 at the Museum of Arts and Sciences.
At each performance the audience was brought to tears of joy and standing ovations as they heard their favorite
Doug Carn compositions being performed by Doug and Jean on stage together again.
Doug and Jean backed up by Young Lions, Stacey Dillard on sax, Duane Eubanks, trumpet, Rashaan
Carter, bass and Russell Carter, drums performed well known favorites, Infant Eyes, Revelation, Power and
Glory, Peace, A Love Supreme, Little B’s Poem and many more with excellence and aggressive musicality. It’s as
if Doug and Jean never separated musically at all. Both artists have matured, but are stronger than they ever
were…needless to say, a new album is in the works as well as an upcoming gig at Dizzy’s Coca Cola in New York
City and Ronnie Scott’s in London.
Doug is also part of Wallace Roney’s “Bitches Brew” and Beyond Band that includes Benny Maupin,
Buster Williams, A] Foster, Bobby Irving, Antoine Roney and DJ. Logic. This group made a triumphant Euro-
pean tour that includes stellar “sold out” performances in Spain, France and Sweden during the summer of 201 l.
The highlight of the tour was in Antibes, France where the band performed along with Herbie Hancock, Wayne
Shorter and Marcus Miller in a tribute to Miles Davis. The group played several selections from “Bitches Brew”
as well as Selim, ‘Round Midnight and Herbie Hancock’s “You ’11 Know When You Get There. ”
In this all star group, Doug is featured on the Hammond B-3, Honner Clavinet and Moog Synthesizer and
thrilled the crowds with his solos and technical prowess; especially his footwork on the Hammond B-3.
To hear and see some of these great shows, go to the following “links” on You Tube. T 00 bad it wasn ’t re—
corded the one time that Doug played with Jimi Hendrix!