Paul “Doc” Tenney

Here are some of the horns which belonged to Paul “Doc” Tenney.

DT Sax2

The horns are sitting on the stage at the Hearst Center for the Fine Arts in Cedar Falls. They are there because Doc died June 9.

When a jazz musician dies, jazz musicians come together. They come together to celebrate a life. They do that by celebrating the art they shared. Some of the musicians who participated: Eddie Piccard, Bob Dunn, Rich Martin, Bob Crumley, Tim Crumley, Bob Washut, Chris Merz, Al Naylor, Dick Kriz, Craig Dove, Nick George, Gail Williams, Paul Rider, Stuart Wood.

Doc Tenney frequently sat in with the Eddie Piccard group when I first started playing with them. His solos were always melodic, inventive, fitting to the song, thoroughly musical.

His friends remember that he didn’t like to waste or mince words. He was meticulous in his speech, in all of his work. Doc thought that calling something “good enough” meant that it wasn’t.

But Doc was always very kind to me, very supportive. He helped me believe that I could learn something about playing this music, about taking part in sessions like the one held in his honor and pictured here.

These are wonderful occasions because they bring to life the old paradox of jazz. There is joy to be found in sadness. Playing the blues can make you happy.

I miss Doc and the sound of his sax, but, as his wife Jan said, we don’t have to speak of this man in the past tense. He is present while our memories are present.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

So said Faulkner. He was talking about the South, about history, but he could have been talking about music, about jazz. We remember. When we played “In a Mellow Tone,” we played a riff I first heard from Doc Tenney.


Doc Tenney

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