Jazz Profile on Pianist Joseph Douglass Written by Lasana Akachi
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
Joseph Douglass is one of the unsung “Lions” of the Jazz world who does not receive the notoriety he richly deserves because of the realities of finance, under appreciation of Jazz and true talent that exists in the Jazz scene in The United States today. Despite that Joe toils and develops his skill-set diligently and relentlessly with a passion that only someone who loves this music can really deliver. He has played for 8 years on a regular gig at Chez Josephine a legendary nightspot and restaurant nestled in the theatre district of 42nd Street. The restaurant is named after the African-American expatriate Josephine Baker who popularized the Banana Dance and drove Paris wild with her sensual, provocative, and “exotic” presentation. The restaurant had been existence for over 25 years and was founded by her adopted son Jean Claude Baker, who tragically took his own life in January 2015.
It is in the backdrop of this little musical oasis that Joseph Douglass has developed into a piano player of extraordinary skill, passion, and fire. On any regular supper time evening Joseph will commence to playing the standard background music during meal providing atmosphere for the consumption of food and drink. Many of the tunes are stock tin-pan alley, he will then venture into some Broadway show tunes, request from the audience for things like birthday medley’s, Billy Joel tunes, or anything that has a familiar cadence. Joseph also possesses the rare and uncanny gift of being able to hear a tune, (In many instances for the first time) synthesize it into a readily recognizable rendition of the tune, without any charts or music, but solely by ear. Your real treat into the artistry of Joseph Douglass will generally come late into the evening about 10:30pm and after when theatre/Dinner crowd thins, .Joseph will break loose. Incorporating the stylings of Oscar Petersen, Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, McCoy Tyner, Red Garland and others to numerous to mention, Joseph Douglass gives you a show and a treat. Combining and integrating those influences and styles along with his own sensibilities to create a rich, vibrant tapestry of piano wizardry, that 98% of the time stirs even the most jaded and uninterested restaurant patron to explode with unbridled applause and appreciation of the magnificence they have witnessed.
Mr. Douglass is an extraordinary player of uncommon talent. Initially I referred to Joseph Douglass as an unsung “Lion”. I reject that term as being cliched and lazy especially when it comes to referring to promising talented Jazz musicians. From this point forward I will coin the phrase NOVA in describing any talented individual with an immense light of talent. It appropriate and much more accurate than lion. Joseph Douglass and people like him warrant that type of acclaim.
Joseph started out as the child of West Indian immigrants in the Bronx who treasured Music and sought to instill that in their children. Joseph discovered the piano at 9 and has not looked back since. The ability to link the Black and Ivory keys of the piano into different melodies and creative variations of sounds fascinated him to develop that interest into a career and lifestyle. Joseph was not just limited to the playing of music as his talent base. In his late teens and early twenties he actually qualified for the US Olympic team as a sprinter. However music is his calling and destiny. He is married and has several children who he adores and is building to provide a rich and great life for them. If you are interested in hiring Joseph for engagements or booking him for public or private events please call (212) 470-1226 for any information pertaining to performances and rates.