Sean Dobbins & the Modern Jazz
Dobbins developed his skills in the Ann Arbor school system, where he was fortunate enough to study and eventually perform with Louis Smith. Early on in his career he perfected highly developed technical skills, while also demonstrating a serious love of jazz history. One drummer he has always admired is Art Blakey, a pioneer of modern jazz who for decades led one of the greatest bands in the history of the music--the Jazz Messengers. When Dobbins leads a group, it often seems to continue the story of the Messengers, and he has often used that word in the names of his bands. But while his concept is inspired and informed by a study of the hard-driving modern jazz of Blakey's groups, he takes the music in new directions. Every now and then he may inject some of Blakey's characteristic drumrolls or cymbal work, but this is for reference only. Perhaps the most important thing that Dobbins learned from listening to the master was how to lead a group from behind the drum set in a way that is subtle and yet definitive.
In the latest edition of his Messengers, Dobbins has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in the state. Rodney Whitaker, for many years the bassist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and first call in Detroit on the instrument, now leads the faculty of the jazz program at MSU, which also includes saxophonist Diego Rivera. Trombonist Vincent Chandler has worked with Dobbins for years, and the group is rounded out by pianist Roger Jones. They play the Kerrytown Concert House on Saturday, May 21, and Dobbins returns to KCH on Friday, May 27 with his Dobbins-Krahnke-Weed Trio.
[Originally published in May, 2011.]