Jazz in Bend & Beyond

In 1970 Seattle, I first experienced live jazz as Miles Davis played with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette.

A meme regarding memory accuracy notes that with every retelling of an event, the story changes. The accuracy of my 1970 memory? Google searches note that Davis played Seattle in October ‘70 with Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette Airto Moreira and others. Though a forty percent accurate memory, Miles Davis assuredly played trumpet.

Davis’ performance remains the musical event of my lifetime. I recall his playing the trumpet with total concentration on and consecration of each melodic blast, sweat running down his face and neck, complete devotion to the music…an astounding introduction to jazz.

Since the early 70’s in Seattle (the city that gave us Jimmy Hendrix; jazz great Quincy Jones and influenced composer John Cage at the Cornish School of Music) jazz continues as my favored music. Sold-out performances of Jazz at the Oxford and the Mt. Bachelor Riverhouse Jazz Series (executive producer, Marshall Glickman) evidence the genre’s favor in Bend.

Glickman received acclaim for his series and the October 21 performance of the Kandace Springs Quartet. The recipient of praise from Prince and numerous musicians, the 27-year-old female jazz prodigy, pianist and singer’s performance was extraordinary.

Spring received a standing ovation for At Last, memorialized by Etta James, and Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Also notable in her youthful quartet was Jesse Bielenberg’s ability on both electric and string bass (loaned by local bassist Tom Freedman).

The Riverhouse ’17 series also featured outstanding tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s son. The young Coltrane garnered a Grammy nomination, Best Improvised Jazz Solo, from his performance on drummer Jack DeJohnette’s In Movement album.

Bend jazz also notes Joe Rohrbacher’s Jazz at Joe’s series which brings some of the Northwest’s best musicians to town. The series, beginning in 2008 in his store (Just Joes’ Music) with 24 attendees, now attracts an audience of over 130 to the Greenwood Playhouse. Proceeds after expenses from the series assist student musicians to pay for instrument rentals and instruction. In 2013, he received the Culture Award from the City of Bend Arts, Beautification and Culture Commission.

Jazz guitarist Dillon Schneider, also an ABC Commission award winner, received recognition for founding the successful Cascade School of Music. The school opened with some 200 students and now instructs over 500.

Bend boasts Georges Bouhey as well, teacher of student jazz in cooperation with the Oxford Hotel Jazz Series where young musicians profit from famed musicians’ instruction. First Friday offers jazz around downtown with Rich Hurdle and Friends performing at Mockingbird Gallery.

Franklin Crossing joined First Friday in 2008. During Franklin’s nearly ten years of art openings and music, Tom Freedman, playing his stand up string bass, has directed the Tommy Leroy Jazz Trio. Gorges Bouhey, drums, and Andy Armer, keyboard, joined Freedman in earlier years.

Warren Zaiger, music instructor and COCC’s Big Band director earlier played at Franklin’s First Friday, and, more recently, Jack Crouscup, keyboard, and Mathew Williams, drums, join Freedman. Other ‘17 guest musicians, native Oregonians relocating to Bend, include Brooks Barnett who played Afro Jazz with famed Zimbabwean exile Thomas Mapfuma, and Scott Johnson, former student at the New York Jazz Academy, Long Island Music School, who played with noted NYC jazz artists.

Female vocalists previously performing at Franklin include Michelle Van Handel, vocal jazz instructor at CSM and Lisa Day, regular at the Northside Bar on Tuesday’s jazz night. Other vocalists include Teresa Ross, who’s toured the U.S. and Kate McKenzie, former music director for Prairie Home Companion. With such sensational talent, Jazz has a secure base in Bend!
The USA proudly claims the origin of jazz (with its sub-Saharan roots) as a new and American art form recognized globally. Appropriately, the politically beleaguered National Endowment for the Arts motto states, “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art.” In agreement, I add, “As Does Bend!”
Billye Turner organizes art exhibits for Franklin Crossing, Betty Gray Gallert and more with info at 503-780-2828 or billyeturner@bendnet.com


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