Tuesday, October 23, 2007


At the C Pop Gallery, on Woodward Ave, was the first time I saw you perform, Sean. Is it okay to call you Sean? Should I be more formal and refer to you as Mr. Dobbin? Would you think I’m pulling your leg if I say you’re one of the best young jazz drummers working? I’m going to refer to you as Mr. Sean Dobbins. You have earned my respect. I’m not trying to flatter you. I’ve never really gotten over the experience of hearing you that night in early 2000.

You were playing with your musical soul-mate trombonist Vincent Chandler. This was years before you guys formed the jazz quintet Urban Transport. (It saddened me when I heard you quit the band.) You were its heart and soul. Thaddeus Dixon, an up and coming drummer replaced you. But Urban Transport, in my opinion, was never the same. You bounced back quickly, forming Sean Dobbins and the New Jazz Messengers. I've heard great things about the group.

At the C Pop, you played as if you’re blessed by the spirits of drummers Art Blakey and Big Sid Catlett. Mr. Dobbins, I was blown away by your every lick and rim shot. I kid you not; I never thought you could top that performance. To my surprise, you did on October 14, 2007, at Bert’s Market Place as a participant of master drummer George Davidson’s “Drum Summit”.

You turned the place out, standing toe to toe with drummers Bert Myrick, Bill Higgins, and Spider Webb. You took their best shots. There was one moment when I became concerned.

Spider had you cornered, entangled in his web of notes on trumpeter Donald Byrd’s gem “Fly Little, Bird Fly”. You had a sturdy chin. You swung your way out. When the tune was over, Spider and the others were slumped over their drum kits. You stood victorious with smoke emanated from your drumsticks.

I have witness you many times before. For example, last summer you worked behind bassist Hakim Jami and saxophonist Salim Washington at the Jazz and Improvised Music Festival. At that gig, you demonstrated you could play with the free-jazz cats, too .
The energy, the animation, and the technical sophistication you displayed at the C Pop Gallery and the “Drum Summit” will stick to my ribs forever. I’m not pulling your leg.
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