Twice now, I have attended concerts in the Jazz at the Oxford series. In both cases, hornblowers were the headliners: saxophonist Bobby Watson during the 2011-12 season, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt a couple months ago, in the current season.
And both times, I made a point to include a passage in my review that could be summed up thusly: Watching drummer Mel Brown work his magic was worth the price of admission all by itself.
The Portland-based Brown is a veteran musician, a former staff drummer for Motown Records, and an Oregon jazz legend. He’s also the namesake and captain of three different bands that play three different nights each week at Portland’s popular Jimmy Mak’s jazz club.
His quartet plays Wednesdays. His organ group plays Thursdays. But it’s his septet — Tuesday’s band at Jimmy Mak’s — that he’ll bring to Bend this weekend for three shows over two nights. The septet features four horns (Renato Caranto on tenor sax, Stan Bock on trombone, Derek Sims on trumpet and John Nastos on alto/soprano saxophones), plus killer pianist Gordon Lee and a dazzling rhythm section.
Tickets to the shows are either sold out or close to it, so if you can get one, go watch a master work. It’s a blast.
Mel Brown Septet; 8 tonight, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. show SOLD OUT; $35 plus fees, available at www.bendticket .com; The Oxford Hotel, 10 N.W. Minnesota Ave., Bend; www.jazzattheoxford.com or 541-382-8436.