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Jazz Guitarist Doc Powell Releases New Album - 2003-03-08

Jazz guitarist Doc Powell was in a sentimental mood when he named his new album "97th and Columbus," the location of a small New York City nightclub where he got his start in the 1980s.

Doc Powell couldn't have timed it any better. After graduating from high school in Spring Valley, New York, he studied music at the University of West Virginia. Deciding his best training was live performance, Doc returned to New York and found work at Mikells on the upper west side of Manhattan. For years, Powell honed his skills at the legendary neighborhood jazz spot, playing alongside many of his musical idols, including guitar great George Benson.

Powell's perseverance paid off, and he soon became one of New York City's top session players. He recorded movie soundtracks and television commercials while collaborating with Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole and Luther Vandross. For a time, Powell was Vandross' musical director, performing on some of the singer's biggest hits. Not one to forget a favor, Vandross arranged a version of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On for Powell's new album 97th and Columbus.

Although Mikells jazz club is long gone, memories of great jam sessions live on. It wasn't unusual to hear vocalist Betty Carter one night and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers the next. Donald Byrd, John Scofield, Regina Belle and Kirk Whalum were also regulars. Whalum later played sax on Powell's debut album Love Is Where It's At.

Special guests on Doc's new album 97th and Columbus include drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Marcus Miller, keyboardist George Duke and pianist Patrice Rushen. The title track features another rising jazz star, saxophonist Ron Brown.