• Mel Brown Septet

  • Mel Brown Septet

    Mel Brown Septet
    Sunday, May 2, 2021
    1 p.m.

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    The Godfather of Portland’s Jazz Scene

    In 1989, legendary trumpeter Doc Severinsen (the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson) implored Mel Brown to “never let this band stop playing.” Their extraordinary performance at the 1989 Playboy Jazz Festival was only a hint of things to come. Since then, the band has expanded to a septet, and today they continue to carry the torch of hard-bop and post-bop jazz in the Pacific Northwest.

    The Mel Brown Septet re-creates the sound of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, segueing from one tune to the next with an ease that makes the show sound like one continuous piece of music—one of the finest you’ll ever hear anywhere.

    Mel Brown is an American jazz drummer, and one of the most prominent jazz musicians in Portland, Oregon. Brown was employed as a session musician for many Motown Records artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye. It was not Motown’s policy to print the names of the backing band members at the time, so he is not credited on the album notes for many of his recordings. Brown came to Motown via Martha Reeves who hired him in 1967 to join her band, at comedian Redd Foxx’s recommendation. Brown played for Reeves and the Vandellas for a couple of years (she gives him a shout out on her unreleased “Live at the Copa” album) before Motown hired him away as a studio musician and to travel with other Motown acts. Coming full circle, Reeves and Brown reunited in 2010 when Martha was booked at the Portland nightclub, “Jimmy Mak’s.” Brown continues to play live with some of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent jazz, funk and soul musicians.