[Dixielandjazz] Earnest "Doc" Paulin obit

baglady4 at juno.com baglady4 at juno.com
Mon Nov 26 20:03:27 PST 2007

LONG obit for "Doc" Paulin.  Delete now if no interest.
Legendary jazz pioneer, Ernest 'Doc' Paulin, diesNovember 26, 2007   

New Orleans lost one of the most cherished surviving jazz legends with the passing of Ernest "Doc" Paulin on Tuesday, November 20. He was 100. 
Those who knew him and learned from him say that his passing leaves a major void in the music world, although he passed on his love of music and his attention to detail to scores of New Orleans musicians. 
The "Paulin" name is synonymous with Traditional Jazz in and outside of New Orleans. "Doc" Paulin was one of the last surviving pioneers that witnessed the old-style Jazz develop from its beginning. 
Ernest "Doc" Paulin was born June 22, 1907. "Doc" Paulin grew up in Wallace, Louisiana in a Creole-French speaking family. He began playing music at the age of seven years old for dances, balls and other events. 
Like many New Orleans jazz artists, he grew up in a family of musicians. Doc's father placed the French accordion and his uncle, trombonist Edgar Peters, led a brass band in which "Doc" played. Playing in his uncle's band left a lasting impression on him. In the early 1920s, "Doc" Paulin organized his own band, The "Doc" Paulin Dixieland Jazz Band. For seven decades, "Doc" has performed New Orleans Traditional Jazz with vibrant energy, style and musicianship. 
Over the years, "Doc" Paulin has played with such greats as Kid Ory, Danny Barker, Papa Celestine and Harold Dejean, to name a few. Playing with this caliber of musicians, "Doc" realized that this new art form called jazz would be his life's passion. 
"Doc" Paulin's greatest contribution to New Orleans music was his unashamed drafting of young musicians into his band, according to his sons. There were many who came under "Doc's" tutelage-some whom have retired and some who are now at eternal rest. Several talented musicians that are now well known had their first official "gig" with "Doc" Paulin. These young musicians included Dr. Michael White, Big Al Carson, Donald Harrison, the late Anthony Lacen, also known as "Tuba Fats," Mark Brooks, Greg Stafford, Joe Torregano, Freddie Lonzo and Leroy Jones. These musicians and many others experienced the true meaning of professionalism and respect for the music and culture from "Doc" Paulin. 
"Our dad was more than a musician; he was a great mentor to the aspiring neophyte," Doc Paulin's sons said on their website. 
Big Al Carson introduced a 20-year-old Dr. Michael White to Doc Paulin in 1975 at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. "I walked up to him and he looked at me and said, 'So you want to play music?' He said, 'If I call you, are you going to show up on time and are you going to be dressed right because I don't have guys in my band not dressed right.' I gave him my number and to my surprise he called me a few weeks later." 
White's first gig with Paulin was playing at a small Baptist Church parade in Marrero. "That was the beginning of my whole life and career, but it was a great experience for me because he had older musicians and it was one of those functions that was very special. I learned something about the repertoire and the functions and all of that stuff. It was great. 
"He was different than anyone I ever worked with because when we had a gig he would have you come to his house way ahead of time, just to make sure that you were early and looked right. When you got to his house, he had an inspection, almost like the military. He looked you over from head to foot to see if you had shiny black shoes, if your pants and solid white shirt were clean and pressed. You had to have a solid black tie and your band cap needed to be clean. He had certain values and he didn't care if you were playing in the heart of the ghetto or in the Garden District. He felt that being a musician was something to be proud of and you were representing yourself and this music, so you had to play, look and behave a certain way." 
"He was a stickler for that, because that's the way the old people taught him," Rickey Paulin said when reminded of his father's stringent dress code. "He passed that on to us. He would say, 'You want to come, come dignified.' 
"New Orleans is getting away from all that," he continued, "but that's why people love New Orleans, the tradition. This a tradition you can't find anywhere else in the world. People come from far and wide to witness the kind of traditional jazz sendoff that he's going to get Saturday." 
White played with Paulin for four years, taking on two or three gigs a month. "I learned a lot from him," White said Wednesday. "My success as a musician and a bandleader is largely attributed to the things I learned from him. He taught me a lot in terms of how to do business and musical standards. I'm one of the very few people today who has a brass band where everybody is dressed exactly the same; that's attributed to Doc. He gave me the tools I needed to go on and have a life and career in the business." 
White looks back with fondness at the many times he spent at Paulin's home listening to his mentor impart wisdom about a wide variety of subjects. "He would talk about everything from politics to music to education and preachers," White remembers. "He was one of these tough, old black men who knew how to do everything...carpentry, plumbing, electricity, painting and all kinds of stuff. ...His thing was always trying to make it. I learned a lot of lessons from him. I saw and participated in my first authentic jazz funerals with him. Those were some of the last funerals of that kind." 
White said Paulin gave many teenage musicians and young people fresh out of high school a chance to pursue music professionally. 
Jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. was in the 11th grade when he began playing music with "Doc" Paulin. "He was the first person in New Orleans to pay me every time we played," Harrison told The Louisiana Weekly. "He also made sure all the young musicians dressed in a respectable manner to the music. I have often thought how amazing it was for him to hire so many young musicians when he had so many sons that played music. His dedication to sharing and nurturing others reminded me of my parents. His sons were also warm and kind to me. 
"I learned traditional New Orleans music listening to Dr. Michael White as we played in Doc's band," Harrison continued. "I would just position myself next to him because he was a little older than me and had more experience. For me, this is how jazz is really learned because it is an oral tradition. You can't get what I got from Doc in school or from a record. School is great, but the real process of learning music is when you do it. You also connect to so many things when you add the element of people that it is really impossible to explain. My only school experience where some of the teachers understood this was Berklee College of Music. My professors - Larry Monroe, Andy McGee and Bill Pierce - nurtured the idea of working professionally while in school because they are great musicians. This is the reason I have put so many young students on the bandstand. I guarantee that if you treat a young person with respect and expectation of professionalism they will generally rise to the occasion. If you really look at it, musicians might be a model for what works with building success." 
Asked about the best advice Doc ever gave him, Harrison said, "Everything I needed was right here in New Orleans. When I told him I was going to New York, he said, 'You don't need to leave New Orleans. You got every thing you need right here, red beans and rice, good music, enough money to be happy, and you can get a pretty girl for yourself.' I wound up spending 20 years in New York, which proved invaluable before moving back to New Orleans. Now I eat a lot of red beans and rice, enjoy good music, and have just enough money to be happy. Like the song Louis Armstrong sang, 'What A Wonderful World.'" 
Above all else, Harrison says he will most miss Doc's smile, "which opened the door to his warm heart. "I used to love to hear Doc say, 'I have a lil' to do for you,' when he hired you for a job," Harrison continued. "He would tell you the time, duration, and pay for the job. He would also share with you some humorous anecdote. What made it more special was that voice of his. He had a thick accent that was like a pot of gumbo that had been in the refrigerator for a few days. All the flavors meld together and become one super-rich amalgamation of the many." 
Harrison credits Doc Paulin with opening his eyes to the possibility of a full-time career as a jazz musician and teaching him the many little things young people need to know to grow and develop into productive people. "Doc just reinforced what I learned at home about life," he explained. "My parents taught me to follow the Golden Rule. The fact that he paid me for my work at such a young age made me realize I could play music as a job. Music would have been a hobby for me if Doc had not done that because all the other bands in New Orleans never paid me when the money came." 
Asked about Paulin's legacy, White said, "In one of the greatest traditions of New Orleans culture - the brass band tradition - he was one of the guys who held the torch when it looked like the brass band tradition was dying out and wasn't extremely popular outside of community parades and funerals. One of the ways that the tradition survives is through younger people coming in and his band was like a school for younger musicians to learn the music, to get introduced to the music business and to participate in community functions in a basically noncommercial setting." 
Paulin's last performance was at the 2004 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. "Doc" Paulin was 97 years of age at that time. 
Although Dr. Michael White had not seen Paulin in a long time, he did get to visit with his former mentor this past July at his 100th birthday celebration and several weeks ago when the Jazz and Heritage Foundation gave a tribute concert for Doc Paulin. 
"For me, he's still alive," White said when asked what he will miss most about Doc Paulin. "The spirit of what he represented and taught me is still very much with me. I still get together with some of the musicians he taught and we talk about experiences we had and joke about some of the things he said and did. He is still with me and everyone whose life he's touched." 
"Doc" Paulin is regarded as a significant contributor to traditional music in the New Orleans community. After "Doc's" retirement three years ago, you could still witness his energy, musicianship and love for New Orleans Jazz inside six of his sons - Aaron, Rickey, Dwayne, Scott, Philip and Roderick - who make up The Paulin Brothers Brass Band. 
Ernest "Doc" Paulin is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Betty White Paulin; three daughters, Kim Paulin, Elizabeth Powell and Joyce Dupclay; 10 sons, Ernest Jr., Lawrence, Aaron, Rickey, Dwayne, Scott, Phillip, Bryant, Dirk and Roderick; and a host of grandchildren, loved ones and friends. 
A traditional jazz funeral procession will begin at 9am on Saturday, Nov. 24, at LaSalle and Washington and end at Holy Ghost Catholic Church, where a funeral mass is scheduled to begin at 10a.m. 
Rickey Paulin had a message for New Orleans musicians who were planning to attend his father's traditional jazz homegoing. "Come correct, do not come here flipshod," he said. "Come here with the right regalia, with the right equipment, ready to function. Black and white (clothing), doing the right thing. 
Send him home right." 

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list