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Clubscene Writer

Name: Bill Aull

I was introduced to jazz back in the late 40's, early 50's the Big War just over, people coming back looking for a good time. Louie Bellson was from my hometown (Moline, Illinois), Bix Beiderbecke played just across the Mississippi in Davenport, Iowa, and my folks hated jazz -- reason enough for a teenager to love it. Too, The Four Freshmen were just starting up, and I was enthralled with their sound.

My early jazz influences included big bands like Dorsey and Heath; singers/players like Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Bennett, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Jeri Southern, and Peggy Lee.

I have a killer stereo that some local artists have used as a bench mark for the recorded quality of their CD's, but mostly listen out, at clubs. Nationally, I'm listening to Karrin Allyson, Gene Harris, Renee Flemming.

Favorite local artists include: Nancy King, Steve Christofferson; Randy Porter, Dave Captein, Ron Steen, Phil Baker, Kevin Deitz, George Mitchell, Glen Moore, Tom Grant, Phil Goldberg, Mary Kadderly, Dennis Caiazza, Jorge Zamorano, Bill Beach, Shirley Nanette.

My favorite hang out for jazz used to be Jazz de Opus, Tuesday night, Nancy King and Steve Christofferson -- best music on the planet to me and the other hard-core listeners who sat around one table together: Jim Glynn, Wendell Rutherford, and me. We rarely missed a Tuesday. Never heard of Andy Bey till Jim put me onto him; now I listen to him every once in a while.

Now, I go just about anywhere Ron Steen's running a jam, or Jorge Zamorano's playing Latin stuff. Zamorano is probably the sweetest player on Latin stuff you're apt to hear in a lifetime. He's sat around our dinner table playing Jobim, and several there were moved to tears.

My favorite jazz experience was hearing -- and hiring -- for the Concert Lecture Series I managed at Augustana College -- Ahmad Jamal; getting into Hartford, Connecticut for my first business trip east, dropping into a neighborhood club about midnight, and finding the real, the authentic Four Freshmen playing, live, to maybe a dozen patrons. I can still hear the brass of Bob Flannigan.

I couldn't tell my favorite tunes...can't limit it to just a few. However, my favorite jazz singers and artists include: Nancy King and Steve Christofferson in combo; Randy Porter and Mary Kadderly when they used to play together; Nancy King, Mary Kadderly and Steve playing in the gym at Cannon Beach for a lazy, summer evening crowd; Jorge Zamorano playing Jobim almost anywhere; Nat King Cole singing "Mona Lisa" when I was dating my first wife at 17; Renee Flemming singing "Haunted Heart" on our stereo; Karrin Allyson et al, the old Jimmy Mak's: Steve Christofferson on piano, Nancy King sitting at the stage's edge, weaving in and out with harmony and scat.

Favorite books on jazz would include: Mark Levine's The Jazz Piano Book -- can't get past page 18 where he discusses the circle of fifths and its application to jazz playing; but love playing the ascending minor second interval he provides on page 2; Bob Haggart's What's New. That still gives me chills.

Ron Steen Jam - March 23, 2006

Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon