Douthit (dow’ thit) could very well be the most famous musician
that people have never heard of. But the smooth jazz saxophonist,
by his own estimation, has played alto, tenor, soprano or baritone
sax on upwards of 4,000 albums by some of the top names in pop,
R&B and jazz, including Whitney Houston, The Neville Brothers,
Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Michael
McDonald, Billy Preston, Take 6, Donna Summer, Don Henley, Vanessa
Williams, Billy Joel, Kirk Whalum, Larry Carlton and dozens more.
Douthit, a Nashville music scene
essential when it comes to laying down sax tracks, has found his
own Groove as Hillsboro Jazz's first smooth jazz artist. A
collection of remakes and originals, Groove reflects Douthit's
diversity and inspirations, such as David Sanborn, Michael Brecker,
John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Cannonball Adderley, while
maintaining a cohesive vibe that keeps the album a smooth pleasure.
"I try to be very emotional in my
playing," explains Douthit, who began his musical quest as a
nine-year-old classical pianist, placing second in a statewide
competition while still in high school. "The bottom line on
this record is: Everything grooves. That's the glue for this
project. The diversity is that I cover a lot of different
directions, from Earth, Wind & Fire's Can't
Hide Love, all the way to one of my originals, Voice
of the Heart, which I think is much more organic and
anthemic. I wrote that song, which is the first single, after I
watched the first news coverage of the bombing of Desert Storm.”
"I didn't pick the remakes on Groove
because of the types of musical genres; I picked them because they
were incredibly well-written and well-performed," Douthit
reveals, "and I wanted an opportunity to do a version of
those songs, because they're some of my all-time favorites."
Groove also signifies Douthit's
premiere as a full-fledged producer, though he's no stranger to
the soundboard and other production responsibilities, having
helmed segments of compilations in the past. One such producer /
performer credit earned Douthit a 1997 Dove Award for The Players
in the "Instrumental Record of the Year" category. That
same album won a Nammy, the Nashville equivalent to a Grammy.
Douthit called all the shots, starting with the line-up of
musicians, stating, "They're all first-call session players
here in Nashville and are also longstanding friends of mine. To
work with them was just like hanging out with all my friends, and
doing what it is that we do best making good music."
And similar to Douthit himself, he
points out, "They play on an awful lot of records that come
out of Nashville.
"I had two different rhythm
sections on Groove," Douthit continues. "I mixed
and matched to find the best that were suited for each song."
Former college roommates and wedding
party members these are the bonds that make Groove that
much deeper, as each of the very in-demand musicians involved
rallied to make some exceptional music with Douthit."
There's a history among all of the
players on the album, and hopefully that is something that will
really set it apart. It's not assembly line music; there's a lot
of heart there, because of the deep friendships involved,"
Douthit reveals. "There's this really infectious groove
that's underlying on all the songs. The musicians on the album tie
all of the diversity of the songs together."
While instilling Groove with
his distinctive note-for-note identity, Douthit found that making
his own record, in contrast to showing up for so many countless
others, offered some unique challenges, especially when wearing
the producer hat.
"I had to maintain control of a
lot of different things simultaneously, instead of just making the
music as the artist. I had to really see the whole picture, as it
was being recorded. What differentiates this record from all of
the other recording experiences that I've had, is that I got to
hand-pick the songs and the players, and stylistically be totally
honest in my performance."
Groove took only a week to record and
an additional four days to mix, which is a testament to Douthit's
decisive vision, unwavering focus and production and coordination
skills, as well as to the professionalism of the participating
Douthit notes, "The players are
so skilled and their intuition is so dead on. That's the beauty of
playing with great musicians and great friends you have to talk
about so little. Everybody just knows what the end result should
As one might predict of such a
prolific musician, Douthit has been a devoted student of jazz and
the saxophone, absorbing the theory, practice and art as a student
at Middle Tennessee State and the Cincinnati Conservatory, before
polishing his chops at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville,
under the aegis of legendary jazz educator Jerry Coker.
And along the way, he met his unique
musical voice and found his Groove.