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What do Music, Art and Medicine have in common?

To be good at either, you have to be an improviser. But if you’re a music fan, you know there are very few great improvisers.

If you long for the great tenor saxophone players of the Jazz Age, like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster or Stan Getz, then we have the "doctor" for you.

Music and medicine…At first glance, the one doesn’t seem to go naturally with the other, does it? True, both are art forms, but the musical expressivity of jazz may at first seem far removed from the medical art of a great surgeon, or an exceptional diagnostician, or a gifted clinician.

And yet there is an important connection, found at the root of what makes the art form of jazz so compelling and makes the art form of medicine so thrilling to behold. Both jazz and medicine place one’s improvisational skills on a pedestal, announcing to the world that this innate talent of thinking on one’s feet is a vital element of how one views the art. In jazz, playing the notes on the page, however beautifully, is not the defining feature of the art form—improvisation is. In medicine, the ability to improvise a procedure, work around an instance of abnormal physiology, or recognize an unusual disease presentation—to name just a few examples—all require a willingness to discard any approach resembling cookbook medicine and adopt improvisational thinking.

In truth, music and medicine are more closely allied than one might suppose.

And finally, there is the intellectual aspect. Those involved in the world of medical care are astute thinkers whose tastes are likely left unsatisfied by everyday, popular genres of music. The brilliance of a great musician finds resonance in the mind of a brilliant clinician.

McMahon Jazz Medicine is pleased to present music, art and concerts. As the publisher of 16 clinical publications, now in its fourth decade, McMahon Publishing has created this unique opportunity to purchase original music and art by top artists for our 400,000 monthly readers, as well as the general public.

Interview With Ray McMahon

What follows is an interview with Ray McMahon, CEO and founder of McMahon Publishing Group, and the producer of the McMahon Jazz Medicine label.

How and why did the McMahon Jazz Medicine label get started?

“I grew up in the 1950’s when jazz was huge in every teenager’s life — it was all about jazz, football and girls. I used to go to jazz clubs in Boston most weekends, and I attended all the ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ concerts for many years. We actually saw all the jazz legends, sometimes 20 of them on stage at one time.

“When I started McMahon Publishing I traveled all over the country. The first thing I would do is find the local jazz club and who was playing.

“So I’m a product of the jazz years, and I believe those years are coming back with a new group of young jazz musicians who have rediscovered the sounds of the legends of the past. I actually taught myself how to play the tenor saxophone 10 years ago and now get a great deal of enjoyment playing for friends as a devoted amateur. The inspiration came to me for a jazz record label a year ago after hearing a new tenor player one night at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village. The player was a fellow named Harry Allen, who I later contacted to see if his quartet was available to play at our annual company banquet at the Plaza Hotel. They were, and thus began a friendship with Harry. In talking to Harry I discovered how hard it is to get established in the jazz world.

“How can we connect great musicians — like Harry Allen — with a bigger audience of fans — like me — who long for the great sounds of the masters? This is a labor of love! After researching how jazz CDs are marketed, it came to me that our publications reach hundreds of thousands of physicians, pharmacists and healthcare professionals every month through our family of newspapers. Could these clinicians represent an audience appreciative of great music? Could we start a conversation with jazz fans through the pages of our newspapers, selling them original jazz CDs, making some profit for the company and getting the artist a nice royalty? Could we expand onto the Internet to reach the general-interest audience of music fans through CDBaby, Amazon, Google and Yahoo, plus sell individual songs through Apple, Netscape, Rhapsody, etc? Could we add art and let medical professionals display their work for a big audience?

“We thought we could. So we put some ads together, created a website and cut the first jazz CD, titled ‘Jazz for the Soul’, which stars Harry Allen and is absolutely fantastic. Our plan is to produce two original CDs each year and end up with a four-CD set of Harry’s greatest songs. We are also bringing in other musicians and singers and creating a jazz club of like-minded fans, running jazz concerts, organizing a jazz cruise and developing a jazz club site, while also discovering great new artists by listening to our readers. Check out our blog if you want to discuss music with our viewers.

“After only 8 months we have sold 100's of CDs and receive over 3500 visitors to the site each month, and we are being contacted by artists daily to be added to the site. We’re off on an adventure and invite our readers to join us on a great trip.

If you are a professional artist or a gifted amateur with a CD out and you would like to be considered for the site, contact us.

The beat goes on...”