Next in our new series of interviews with some of Central Ohio’s finest jazz musicians is organist Linda Dachtyl. Dachtyl has long been established as a top-flight organist in the local jazz and rock scenes, and is also an accomplished rock drummer. She has played and studied with many jazz greats, including Hank Marr, Gene Walker, Dave Wheeler, and many more. She is currently active with her own organ trio/quartet, which is playing Dick’s Den on Sunday, September 13th, at 8pm, and other projects. Keep reading for great details on her current exploits and her musical background:
When and why did you start playing music and jazz?
Linda Dachtyl (LD): I started playing music with organ lessons when I was 6. My parents bought an organ from Sears as a surprise. One day this large truck arrived at the house and I didn’t know what it was. It was the delivery of the organ and it was a very nice surprise. The organ was small, but had a full pedalboard. I played that until I was about 10 and we got a Lowrey with a lot of bells and whistles.
I bought the LP Lee Michaels Live and heard his version of “Stormy Monday” and got immediately got hooked on the Hammond. I enjoyed Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti” and Goldy McJohn’s work on various Steppenwolf tunes at that time, too. I asked if we could get a Hammond, so we sold the Lowrey and about $600 bought the B2 Hammond/Leslie 147 combination I have sitting in my living room to this day.
In middle school I became hooked on progressive rock music. Heard Fragile by Yes for the first time. An older friend of mine played it for me in its entirety one afternoon and I think that was probably the minute I decided that I wanted to be a serious musician. Her parents and mine were playing cards that afternoon and we were listening to a bunch of her records on her new stereo. That lead to me investigating other bands in this genre, mostly Emerson, Lake, and Palmer at that time.
A couple of years later I started seeing Maynard Ferguson on some PBS specials and his music was my first introduction to jazz. My first jazz LP purchase was Live at Jimmy’s and it’s still one of my favorites.
I played drums in the school band program which led me to become a percussion major in college. At this time I wasn’t too familiar with jazz organ and my interest in the Hammond was more from the rock side of things. Although my college work is in percussion, I always have had keyboard instruction concurrently with that, although I don’t hold a formal degree in keyboard areas. However, I have found the combination in both instrumental areas to feed off each other personally concerning the independence needed to play both Hammond organ and drum set.
My first introduction to jazz organ was seeing Hank Marr play at the Anchor Inn in college and attending his jam sessions, although at that time I either sat in on the Wurlitzer electric piano he brought to the gigs or sat in on drums. I had no idea on how to run jazz bass lines on the Hammond at that time and frankly when I went to the first jam I wondered where the bass player was when I walked in! Later I studied with Hank and he explained these things to me and how to run bass lines. At this time, I attended a jam at Monaco’s Palace where I met Tony Monaco and Don Hales for the first time, but it was a number of years later when I became friends with both of them.
Who are some of your main influences in your playing/performing?
LD: My list of influences are many. I divide my time up between jazz organ and progressive rock as a keyboardist.
My main jazz organ influences are Hank Marr, Tony Monaco, Trudy Pitts, Charles Earland, and Jimmy McGriff. Jimmy Smith, of course, although I think my current style is a little more along the lines of Earland’s and McGriff’s.
Rock keyboardist influences are many. Lee Michaels, Goldy McJohn, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Jon Lord would be at the top of my list.
Concerning drums, my rock influences include John Bonham, Ian Paice, Bill Bruford and Alan White. Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Art Blakey, and Sonny Payne are my main jazz influences.
What is your fondest musical memory?
LD: I have many but one that sticks out the most was playing a jazz organ summit with Trudy Pitts and Gloria Coleman in 2009. I was introduced to Trudy via a phone interview by Joan Cartwright of Women in Jazz South Florida. Trudy and I were her guests that day talking about jazz organ. That interview lead to Trudy and I becoming friends and talking about putting together a show. Gene Walker was instrumental in putting together that show, inviting his long time friend, Gloria Coleman and presented the idea to Dr. Ted McDaniels at Ohio State who took it from there. It was a wonderful weekend and I became friends with Trudy and Gloria. Unfortunately they passed in 2010, so it was a short lived time of fraternizing with them, but a blessing to be able to play with these women and get to know them as well as I did in that short period of time.
I also had the opportunity to play with Alan White on a drum set clinic here in town in 1996 at Columbus Pro Percussion. Trading 4’s with Alan was surreal. He was very kind and complimentary on my playing. He had a couple of people come up to play and specifically asked if anyone had a jazz background. I put up my hand and was invited up.
Most recently, in 2012, I played the Pensacola Jazz Festival. That event in and of itself would have been on top of the list, but on the way down I was called by the committee as “a jazz saxophonist wants to play with the group. He is doing a clinic for one of the college bands playing the fest.” The cell phone reception was garbled so I didn’t hear the name, and agreed to it as “I always enjoy playing with sax players.” When I got there and looked at the program…the only saxophonist on there was Blue Lou Marini and it was him who asked about playing with my group…! He played with us for both days and it was very enjoyable. Lou grew up about 20 miles from me in a small town called Beach City, OH, as I learned. He is very down to earth personally. Little did I know when listening to that soulful “Saturday Night Live” closing theme all those years that I would eventually end up playing with him.
These events were surreal to say the least and very enjoyable!
What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?
LD: I split up my listening time between jazz and rock. It will always include jazz organ and progressive rock from the original era and also new artists in that genre. I also listen to quite a bit of hard rock, recreationally and to prepare tunes for Uncle Fester, a hard rock cover band I have been playing with for the last year as a drummer.
What inspires you about the Columbus Jazz scene?
LD: I think we have one of the best jazz scenes in Ohio, possibly in the Midwest and beyond. This town is small enough to secure good gigs and there has always been a pool of fine musicians to hear, study, and fraternize with. I didn’t grow up around here. I grew up in Holmes County in the middle of Amish Country and played my first gigs in the Dover/New Philadelphia area.
I came to Columbus to attend Capital University as a jazz performance major and have basically lived here since that time save for about a year when I first taught school and went where the work was at the time. I returned to Columbus with the intention of eventually going to graduate school and secured a teaching assistantship working for the late Dr. James L. Moore in the percussion department at The Ohio State University. This is where I met and got to know Cary Dachtyl, who was the other percussion graduate assistant. Personally that lead to our marriage and we still have strong ties with that period of time concerning Dr. Moore. It was Dr. Moore’s dying wish for Cary to assume ownership of Permus Publications, an educational percussion sheet music company. I work as an administrative assistant with Cary for the company: http://www.permus.com.
Dr. Moore published my first composition “The Ice Cream Suite Rag” which has been played all over the world in various educational settings and is still on some Solo and Ensemble contest lists around the country. I wrote the piece when I was a composition student of the late Dave Wheeler, who was my teacher for years and also a close personal friend.
I also played piano in the Ohio State Jazz Ensemble and drums in the Ohio State Jazz Lab Ensemble when I was in graduate school. This is where I first met the late Gene Walker On the first gig we played together, I was hired in to play drums. Later he became a member of my organ group and I of his various groups starting around 2004 after Hank Marr’s passing. I was asked to step in as the organist for Gene’s “Listen for the Jazz” jam at the Hot Times Festival in 2004. Those were incredible shoes to even to attempt to fill, but the gig led to many nice things concerning my work with Gene later. Gene and I recorded two CDs during that time on Tony Monaco’s Chicken Coup Records label (Blue Bop and For Hep Cats).
The jazz scene in place here for years and also the various colleges in the area with their fine jazz instruction has probably been the reason Columbus is somewhat of a jazz mecca here in the Midwest. Columbus has always had an active Hammond organ scene in place which personally has led to a wealth of personal instruction for me and also lots of fraternizing with people who play the instrument in various genres.
There are nice scenes in other Ohio towns. I am most familiar with the Dayton scene outside of Columbus as I have played a number of gigs in that area thanks to Jazz Advocate Ron Gable who has been an enthusiastic supporter of my music for the last dozen years or so. I also have done a number of gigs in the Akron and Kent areas, mostly with jazz guitarist Bob Niederriter, playing Hammond in various lineups of his jazz trio.
What are you working on these days? Any new projects, exciting shows or releases?
LD: I have my jazz organ group that just released a new CD in June. It’s called A Late One and is my 3rd release on Tony Monaco’s Chicken Coup Records which is associated with Summit Records. I also released Blue Bop on that label in 2006 that had tunes in tribute to Hank Marr, and For Hep Cats in 2008 that covered blues genres across a wide range of styles.
We have just come off a bunch of gigs and festivals including the Jazz Rib Fest, “Live at Studio A” on WCBE, our CD release party at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, and a recent concert at the Dayton Museum of Art.
We are playing Dick’s Den on Sunday, September 13th from 8pm – midnight and also at a newer venue in Newark called The Trout Club on November 4th.
The core of that band is Don Hales on guitar, Cary Dachtyl on drums and me on the Hammond. Fred Gablick will be on the Dick’s Den gig on sax and Mark Donavan will be on The Trout club gig on sax.
I also play organ with the Chip Willis group. Chip sang and played sax on my latest CD on “Don’t Misunderstand.” We are playing the Grove City Arts in the Alley on Saturday, September 19th from 4:30 – 6pm. We also have a date at The Shamrock Club on Saturday, October 10th and at Dick’s Den on Sunday, October 11th from 8pm – midnight. Members of that group are Chip Willis on vocals/tenor sax, Gregg Shively on guitar, Cary Dachtyl on drums, and me on the Hammond.
I play in an eclectic art rock group called Eskip. We play the occasional gig, but are in recording mode currently for a CD release of original music. Members of that band are Larry Smith on lead vocals/guitar, Dave Williams on bass, Cary Dachtyl on drums, and me on a very large stack of keyboards.
I also play many gigs with the Uncle Fester rock band and we have a number of dates between now and the end of 2015. The core members of that band are Jeff Randall on lead vocals, Henry “Uncle Fester” Kaminski on guitar, Tony Leach on guitar, Steve Conway on bass, and me on the drums. Their original drummer Mike Kuhlman still plays some dates with the band, too from time to time.
Between all those things I get to play the music I enjoy the most 🙂
I also freelance from time to time on keyboards and drums, but the above bands keep me pretty busy these days.
Where can local audiences see you play in the near future?
LD: All the places I mentioned above and some other things that can be found on my websites.