Chris Minh Doky is regarded among the masters of the upright bass widely recognized for his passionate delivery and extraordinary technical gifts.
In a world obsessed with bottom lines, Chris Minh Doky has created bottom lines that have perked the ears of jazz fans around the world. For more than two decades he has been recognized as an original master of the upright bass. Technical brilliance delivered with personal passion prompted DownBeat magazine to write: ” … there is a softness and crisp clarity that is very different from the sound others derive from the acoustic instrument.” Though written several years ago, those words remain valid today, as you will hear on Doky’s most recent album New Nordic Jazz.
Doky’s rare ability to perform with ample portions of creativity and dynamism–either as a solo artist or sideman–consistently place him in the top-5 lists of reader polls around the world. Carrying on the Danish tradition of spotlighting the bass as the lead instrument, his distinctive styling of each note reflects his roots in American East Coast grooves seasoned with the lyrical traditions of Scandinavia.
Whether fronting his own band or playing with the most prominent artists of the day, Doky’s bottom lines always seduce you with their compelling approach. His uncanny knack for being the music at times or complementing the group as a whole made him an integral part of the Michael Brecker Quartet from 2001 and the Mike Stern Band since the days Doky emerged as a player in the ’90s New York jazz scene.
A knight of jazz became the honor for Doky after Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in 2010 made him a knight in the Order of the Dannebrog for his contributions to the arts. Two years earlier the international Ben Webster Foundation gave Doky its eponymous award for his jazz accomplishments through the years.
Doky spreads the word of jazz in places other than on stage and record. He hosts regular jazz programs on the public broadcaster DR2 cultural TV channel and one of its radio stations. From 2008 to 2012 Doky was the artistic director of the DR Big Band. His creative input and productions acted as the spark plug that ignited a new interest in the band, recruited new listeners and four Grammy® nominations.
Music was a family centerpiece when Doky entered the world in 1969, the son of a Danish mother and Vietnamese father. At the age of six he began playing classical piano and won several awards in local competitions. Fate stepped in one day in high school when he picked up an electric bass. Sparked by his love for groups like Earth, Wind & Fire, Doky began performing in different funk bands as a teen and got a taste for the stage as well as deeper understanding of music.
When Doky was 16, his epiphany came after listening to Miles Davis My Funny Valentine. He switched over to his signature instrument, the acoustic bass, and was soon courted to play in Copenhagen jazz clubs he wasn’t even old enough to get in to. Yearning to be closer to the root of the music he loved, Doky headed to New York shortly after his 18th birthday. He quickly landed studio and club gigs with other up-and-coming musicians around Manhattan.
His bass earned him a reputation as an excellent sideman and an innovative soloists in the Big Apple. The big break came when Mike Stern invited Doky to join his band in 1991. The word spread from New York to the greater world of jazz and soon Doky found himself playing with great musicians he’d listened to in the early years: Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mike Stern, Michele Camilo, Trilok Gurtu, Bireli Lagrene, Brecker Brothers, John Scofield, Kenny Garret, Randy Brecker, and more.
When Doky joined forces with his brother Niels Lan Doky in 1994 to form the Doky Brothers, it was nothing short of a second coming of jazz to Denmark and the sound was heard far beyond her borders. Signed to Blue Note, the duo’s two albums drew a broader audience to jazz with an alluring balance of tradition and bold interpretation. Minh, Doky’s first international solo album, raised his career to an even higher level in 1998. An extensive world tour followed, the first of many to come as a leader, either coaxing sumptuous notes from his beloved upright or letting go on his more assertive electric bass.
Recognizing Doky’s unique talent and musicianship, Doky was approached by Yamaha in 1999 to be an integral part in developing an instrument that would be based on his style, approach and preferences to the upright bass. The result became the Silent Bass, which today is his trademark instrument played by thousands around the world.
Scenes From A Dream is Doky’s orchestral creation, an album under the direction and arrangements by Grammy® winner Vince Mendoza. Doky had one intention: “To be in the moment,” which he shares with you the listener with his trademark acoustic lead bass performance and sound. The album moves in a fresh direction and is another testament to the versatility Doky has previously demonstrated on albums such as the jazz-funk Listen Up, The Nomad Diaries with its electronica-jazz fusion and the vivid expression of Cinematique.
With Chris Minh Doky’s steady band The Nomads, he released The Board Tapes in 2014 which is a live album recorded during a world tour in 2012-2013. Together with Dean Brown, George Whitty and Dave Weckl they propel jazz with a passion that delivers tradition-defying electric jazz that is wired for funk. By many already hailed as the hardest grooving band on the electric jazz scene, the album reached the iTunes top five spot for several weeks in multiple territories. With dynamics and diversity Doky, Weckl, Whitty and Brown create a funk groove greater than the sum of its parts.
New Nordic Jazz
On Chris Minh Doky’s latest album, he heads New Nordic Jazz as they explore the enigma of Nordic storytelling through the sounds of acoustic jazz. His world-acclaimed style of bass playing is the voice you’ll hear as the tales unfold in lush melodies and solos. All describing the essence of being Nordic.
As with the previous solo albums, the latest marks a new chapter in an ongoing volume of masterful bass playing – that’s the bottom line.