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Clubscene Writer

Name: Lynn Sirrine

My love of music of any and all kinds was started as a child in the 50's when I used to buy the sound tracks to every musical ever made. Much to my parents' dismay, I played them over and over and over. To this day, I can recite the lyrics to every show tune ever made. But don't ask me to sing . . . can't carry a tune in a bucket, as my mother used to say.

I have no idea where my love of music came from, as no one else in the family is musical, except for my younger brother who started out on classical violin at age 4 and then graduated to lead guitar when he was in high school and played in the "Backstreet Majority," a local rock band in Vancouver, WA.

My experience in any band was limited to the clarinet in high school and listening to music of all kinds.

I was a young adult when I realized that my favorite music was something called "jazz" and I started seeking it out in clubs as soon as I reached legal age. It wasn't until I joined the Jazz Society of Oregon in 1980, however, that I really started concentrating on jazz and started my collection of jazz records, tapes and now CD's.

As a novice, I found myself suddenly and completely immersed in jazz and one of my first significant experiences was going to Jim and Mary Brown's Otter Crest Jazz Weekend in 1980. As I recall, the entertainers that year included Joe Williams, Plaz Johnson, Blue Mitchell and others. I had an opportunity to bring Joe Williams to Otter Crest from the airport—but the friend I was riding with nixed the idea and I was too inexperienced to argue. (Have been kicking myself ever since.) I do remember turning to my friend immediately after Joe's performance on Saturday night and saying incredulously, "We passed up an opportunity to spend two hours in a car with this man!" We are still friends, but I have never quite forgiven him for that.

In those years, Portland was afire with hot names in jazz. I was lucky enough to see Count Basie and his orchestra at the Neighbors of Woodcraft Hall, Cal Tjader at Hobo's, Bobby Hutcherson, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Sonny King, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Dizzy Gillespie, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lew Tabakin, and Buddy Rich to name just a few.

In 1981 I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at Otter Crest again when Gene Harris, Bill Henderson, Teddy Edwards, John Heard and Jimmy Smith (the drummer) were there. I am thrilled to say I was in the audience on the now famous recording that was created from that weekend. And if you weren't there, you can NEVER know the electricity that was in the air that weekend. The recording doesn't do it justice, but it was, without a doubt, the most fantastic musical experience of my life.

Those Otter Crest Jazz Weekends (and later at Salishan) were magical. There is no other way to describe it. Jim and Mary Brown were experts at putting together musicians to maximize their talents, and they were the perfect hosts for perfect jazz weekends.

One of the things that made those weekends so much fun was that one could get to know the musicians. Everyone was thrown together in an intimate setting (if I remember correctly, seating was limited to approximately 225 people—or maybe it was only 125) for four days and nights of music. When the musicians weren't playing or rehearsing, we all joined together for dining and relaxation.

One of my favorite experiences was a week or so after Otter Crest in '81. Bill Henderson, who had been at Otter Crest that year, suggested that I attend Bill Cosby's show. He (Bill Henderson) was opening Bill Cosby's show at the Portland Auditorium and suggested that I come backstage between Cosby's shows. The two men were friends and neighbors (in Connecticut) and Bill Henderson offered to introduce me to Bill Cosby. Ron Steen, who was also there backing Bill Henderson, suggested that I come down to Delevan's after Bill Cosby's last show. (Delevan's was Ronnie's gig in those days—although it may have been called Remos at that time.) He thought Bill Cosby would be "dropping by." Bill Cosby is an avid jazz drummer and he did, indeed, drop by Delevan's that evening. It was a Wednesday night and late. The club was almost empty but Bill Cosby not only came to the club, he actually sat in for several numbers. It was a fun evening. Although, I have never been forgiven by a friend of mine for not calling her, getting her out of bed and down to the club for that historic event.

And, speaking of Remos and Delevans—Ronnie has always been known to give young musicians a break, as he continues to do. I spent a lot of time in that club—it really was the best place in town to hear fantastic jazz on a regular basis. I can remember two young musicians at various times who were not old enough to be allowed in the club. Ronnie had them stand just outside the lounge, but in the foyer near where the band played. One of these young musicians played coronet in those days (I believe) and came by as often as he could. Ronnie announced that we would be hearing much more from this young man—and he was right. The young man's name was Chris Botti. (As Ron said it . . . Chris "Bow-Tee") The other musician was a saxophone player by the name of Patrick Lamb. I think it is absolutely amazing that this town should bring forth not one, but two such great talents as these young men.

Regarding writing for Clubscene, I sort of got roped into this. I have been the webmaster for the JSO website for the last several years, and that is quite a job all by itself. As a result of those duties, I have been in on the ground floor of the "Clubscene" column. Generally speaking, I feel most anyone else on our writing staff would be better at writing the articles. However, when I mentioned I would be attending a recent gig and no one else was going to cover it, I decided I better take notes and would see what came of it. So there you have it, am now adding the duties of writer to the list. (Somehow, I think Steve won't let me off the hook with just one article.)

Patrick Lamb Band - January 25, 2007
Bend Jazz Quartet - January 13, 2007
Dick Berk Trio with Janis Mann - August 4, 2006

Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon