Niels Lan Doky Interview: Make Music Part of Your Child



“You learn so much about mutual respect, listening to each other, understanding each other.” Meet Danish jazz-legend Niels Lan Doky and his advice to all parents to “make music part of the plan for their child.”

“If you look at musicians interacting – at least in jazz – you will not find the type of hostility, aggression, and negativity that you find in most other parts of society. It’s a community where cooperation between human beings is the foundation of the existence of the community.”

Furthermore, Lan Doky stretches, “if you play music you do much better in school. It has a positive effect on your learning and development. Music is a language and it can be used to communicate things that cannot be communicated with words.”

Niels Lan Doky was born in Copenhagen in 1963 and is the older brother of jazz bassist Chris Minh Doky. Both were children of a Danish mother and Vietnamese father, who worked as a doctor and was a classically trained guitarist. Accordingly, the guitar turned out to be Niels’s first instrument. He switched to piano at 11 and went on to attend Berklee College of Music in the early 1980s.

A generation younger than artists like Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny, pianist, composer, and producer Niels Lan Doky is one of the most acclaimed and prolific jazz artists of his time. He has released more than 40 albums, has collaborated with the greatest artists in jazz, and has won countless awards and accolades around the world. When he released his debut album in 1986 an American Jazz Journalist wrote: “There is nothing more encouraging and satisfying than to encounter for the first time a young Jazz musician of real stature, someone who can make you feel that the future of the music is in good hands.”

Since then, Niels Lan Doky has had one of the most extensive and unusual careers ever seen in music, which ‐ aside from performing, arranging, composing, and producing music ‐ also has included work as a film director, author, venue owner, speaker and more. He was Knighted by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in 2010 and has appeared on bestseller lists in Europe and Asia. He has lived in Boston, New York, Paris, and London before returning to his hometown of Copenhagen in 2013, where he gave the TEDx Talk “How Jazz Wisdom Will Change Your Life” in 2016. Today, Niels continues to celebrate the past, present, and future of Jazz as a musician and as the founder of the Niels Lan Doky International Jazz Collective.

Niels Lan Doky was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in his home/studio in Elsinore, Denmark in December 2020.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard and David Schweiger

Edited by Rasmus Quistgaard

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021

Supported by Nordea Fonden

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