“There’s a time for everyone, if they only learn/That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn.”
It’s a line from Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight, the song that Ellen Doty made her debut with in Grade 1, singing and accompanying herself on piano.
“My first real performance. I think there’s a video somewhere,” Doty said from Calgary where she lives.
The jazz singer-songwriter’s time is now. She’s on tour and has finished the studio portion of her next album of all-original songs.
She’s already experienced the twisting kaleidoscope of fate. Back in third year university, studying geology, she went to her usual Friday night singing gig at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel and crossed paths with New York jazz drummer Dave Mancini.
He said “‘hey, you’ve got a great voice, what are you doing with it? Is there any way that I can help? I think you should be doing this as your job.'”
It wasn’t just an idle compliment. He followed up by phone when got back home and asked Doty when she was coming to New York. She quit school and took a trip to New York where she took lessons and worked hard learning what would be her new career. Later, to top it off, “a really amazing fan” funded her first album.
“And I just haven’t looked back.”
Doty’s current tour features guitarist Josh Crowhurst and multi-award-winning sax player Eli Bennett.
Bennett’s talent is a bit of a distraction, Doty said, laughing about a recent rehearsal.
“Sometimes when he solos I kind of get lost and I think ‘this is an amazing solo.’ And then I’m, like, ‘Oh, I’m supposed to come in?’”
Doty admits the guitar-sax-vocal lineup is unusual.
“It’s a very open sound. It took us all a little getting used to without having the support of other band members. We’ve definitely learned how to adapt the sound to fit that and find different ways to use our own instruments to contribute to the overall sound.”
Doty was equally adventurous with her album, choosing to record with only piano and drums. Recording in Toronto, she narrowed down 50 contending original songs to about 13 and couldn’t be happier with the results.
“I love it. I had high expectations going in but they’ve been exceeded for sure.”
As yet untitled, the album is set for a fall release.
Meanwhile, there’s touring to do, something Doty sincerely enjoys. She particularly likes talking to the audience, telling stories behind the songs.
“I love that part. I really enjoy it. It helps people understand how I’m connected to the music. It really helps the audience understand and it helps them connect with us, too.”
Ellen Doty Trio
Saturday, March 4, 8 p.m.
Tickets $25, $20 members
Box office: thebassment.ca, 306.683.2277