Generations of Tacoma Jazz

— by Kim Davenport

A research project in my ‘Musical History of Tacoma’ class gave UW Tacoma student Tyler Wicke the opportunity to learn more about his own family’s legacy of musical activity in Tacoma.

In his paper and presentation, Tyler shares what he learned about how Jazz first became popular in Tacoma, as well as how members of his family – great-grandfather Art Doll and grandfather Geoffrey Doll – built on that tradition to make their livelihoods from a diverse range of musical activity, from performing to teaching.

Art Doll’s career, in particular, exemplifies the wide range of work available to musicians during the middle of the 20th century. Utilizing his primary instruments, clarinet and saxophone, Art led the Puyallup Fair Band, played in an Air Force Band, and performed in theater pit orchestras such as the Music Box in Tacoma and the Fifth Avenue in Seattle, as well as in Tacoma clubs such as the New Yorker (pictured below) and the Top of the Ocean.


Here’s an opportunity to hear Art on saxophone in a combo performance from the 1970s:

Tyler continues the family’s musical tradition, currently playing with the TCC Jazz Ensemble while pursuing his education.

Photographs courtesy Tacoma Public Library.

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