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Niels Lan Doky

Years ago, in 1981 to be exact,  I left my native Denmark for the United States of America, to live at first for three years in Boston while studying music there,  and subsequently for five years in New York City full time plus many years as a part time resident after that. In those days, New York City was still very much considered THE Mecca of the international jazz world, and as a result, overwhelming amounts of greatly talented jazz artists from all over the planet were constantly pouring into the city non stop! And as you can imagine, the competition among young musicians, such as myself at the time, was fierce – to say the least! And top of that, we were still in an era where jazz musicians were (from the audience perspective) stereotypically black Americans. So being a white European didn’t exactly provide the best odds. However, after moving to New York in 1984, I soon realized that whenever I had the chance to meet a famous or established musician and I told him that I was from Denmark, it would often ease the conversation to a remarkable extent and help open up doors and facilitate my entry into the inner circles of the New York elite of jazz musicians.  The reason being that Denmark and Copenhagen in particular had already since several decades been one of the most important hubs for touring American jazz musicians, and as a result many of them had lots of friends there, loved the audience and had great memories of their visits there, and last but not least , they were very aware of the substantial amount of talented local Danish jazz musicians. So that was my stoke of luck,  and in this way my Danish side helped me survive and open many doors during my initial efforts to establish myself on the New York jazz scene.  For this reason, I started to become very conscious of my Danish roots and began taking them very seriously.

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