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Featured Musician - May 2005

Name: Dave Fleschner

Instrument: piano, organ, keyboard, and composer

Early Years/Education: Born in Sacramento, California. My parents moved to Oregon in the late 70's and then moved back to California to Trinidad, a coastal town near Eureka. My family was musical; my mom as a child sang with her sister on various military bases in San Diego in USO-type shows. She was into classical and show tunes. My Dad sang and played the guitar and listened to old-time country and western music; he also loved Bob Dylan. Like a lot of people I found jazz late in life. There was no jazz on the radio in remote northern California. I started piano around age seven and by junior high was composing and performing. In high school I took up the guitar but my rural school didnÕt have a band program. I did, however, have access to the preparatory institute at Humbolt State University. There I studied theory, composition and electronic music. By this stage I had my own band playing progressive rock for local dances. Like a lot of rock musicians who just want to get better, I decided to study jazz at college. I went to Willamette University to major in English and minor in music.

Willamette: Band director Dr. Martin Behnke really turned me onto jazz. He had an almost militaristic approach to teaching jazz: just follow his formula and you'll get there. At first I really got into Monk; I thought of him as being like Bob Dylan . . . pushing the boundaries of his idiom in a strange kind of way. From there I started to listen to Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and those kinds of players. At the same time, I didn't give up rock so I listened to lots of funk, and continued to perform, but for the first time with jazz combos. During the summer of my sophomore year I attended The Berklee School of Music where I studied with Marc Rossi and bassist Dave Johnson. That's where I got turned onto playing organ and the music of Jimmy Smith. My first gigs in Portland were rock gigs. I remember playing at the Pittock Mansion for the Policemen's Ball, which was a lot of fun. I moved to Portland in ‘96 and a year later got a scholarship to study at PSU. There my mentors were Darrell Grant, Randy Porter and Charley Gray. I finished with a Bachelor's of Music in Jazz Performance.

Bands: Currently I play solo, and have a quintet and trio under my own name. In these settings the emphasis is on my original music, some standards, and some fresh treatments of popular tunes played on mostly acoustic instruments. I usually play with drummers Ken Ollis, Joel Fadness, or Anthony Jones; bassists Tyler Smith or Bill Athens; saxophonists: Marc Hutchinson or John Gross; and guitarists Dan Gildea or A.G. Donnaloia. Other bands include "Groove Revelation," a fusion-type jazz outfit; "Zuppa," an organ trio with guitarist A.G. and drummer Anthony Jones; and I play organ/keyboards for blues/funk bands: The Kelly Walker Band, The Chris Mayther Band and Rubberneck.

Musical Influences: Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Herbie Hancock, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, Jimmy Smith Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, Larry Young, Larry Goldings, Art Pepper, Brad Mehldau, and Bob Dylan.

Most Satisfying Experience: Anytime I get to play with really great musicians. I recently got to play with a former teacher, bassist Tom Wakeling. I remember when I first met him I didn't know anything, and to hear him say after the gig, call me anytime; now, that's really satisfying!

Favorite Recordings: Brad Mehldau's "Live at the Village Vanguard;" Uri Cain "The Philadelphia Experiment;" Miles Davis "In a Silent Way;" Cuong Vu's tune "Vina's Lullaby;" Bill Frisell's tune "The Rambler;" Keith Jarrett's ECM recordings. I love the contrast between the accessible and funkier tunes with the more modern , experimental approach. I also like the organ music of Don Patterson on "Funk You," Larry Young's "Testifying" and "Unity;" I love hearing "mistakes" on recordings, because to me it seems the artist is really improvising and living in the moment. I like Bill Evans's "Portrait in Jazz," Wynton Kelly's "Kelly Great," Herbie Hancock's "Thrust," "Maiden Voyage;" Art Pepper's "With the Rhythm Section," Ornette Coleman's "In All Languages," and from Bob Dylan, "Blond On Blond," "Nashville Skyline" and "Time Out of Mind."

Discography: As a primary member or leader: Dave Fleschner, "At Home" 2004; Zuppa's "Walk Funky" 2004 and "Live at the Goodfoot" 2002; Dave Fleschner Trio: "Just Like You" 2002 and "Live at Mc Peet's" 2002; Groove Revelation, "Grindin" 2000, "The Arch Cape Sessions" 1997. As a sideman: Chris Mayther, "Big Blue Eyed Soul" 2004; the collection "Deep Roots" Volumes I thru VIII annually from May 1998 to 2004; Young Lions of Zion, "Your Sanctuary" 2003; the Vantucky Diamonds, "Rock House" 2002; Northwest Foundations, "Compilation, 2001; The Mac Groove "Live at Jimmy Mac's" compilation 1998; Jane Wright "Synergy" 2000; Billy Hagen "You Should'a Been Pretty" 2002: Blake Woods and Monica's ‘Dress "Safe in Heaven Dead 2000; and D. Mark Jackson "3 Years On" 1999.

Where Playing Currently: May 6th "Music ‘til Midnight" at Aloha High School with Billy Hagen, Ken Ollis and Tyler Smith. I'll be on organ; May 13 Ð Wilf's at Union Station with the Dave Fleschner Quintet (Marc Hutchinson, Dan Gildea, Ken Ollis, Tyler Smith) I'll be on piano; May 14 and 20th at the Fivespice Restaurant in Lake Oswego with a piano trio with Ken Ollis on drums and Tom Wakeling on bass, from 9 to midnight; Every Tuesday in May I'll be at Imbibe on Hawthorne from 8 to 10 with Zuppa organ trio; Wednesdays May 11, 18, and 25th at O'Connor's in Multnomah Village with Curtis Salgado and Chris Mayther. This is a blues/R&B gig; I'll bring the Hammond. And, I'm playing keyboards on May 21st with Rubberneck at the Gemini Pub in Lake Oswego from 10 to 1:00 am.

Future Plans: I guess I really just want to do "my thing," but in Portland you have to be versatile to survive. You can over-play; what I mean is you can't get everybody to turn out if you're playing all the time . . . Mel Brown can do it, that's about it.

Other Comments: Dave operates a recording project studio out of his home where he's the engineer and producer; he teaches piano at Ethos (a non-profit music school) and at the Multnomah Art Center.

Quote from Rob Scheps: "Dave Fleschner is talented and energetic . . . a double threat on the Hammond B-3 organ and piano."


-- Interviewed by Rita Rega

Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon