Bend blows its horn

Video: Trumpeter Randy Brecker leads music workshop at Oxford Hotel

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

Published Jan 18, 2015 at 12:01AM

Ryan Pierce arrived early at The Oxford Hotel on Saturday morning, finding a front row seat within arm’s reach of the stage.

A trumpeter with the Bend High School jazz band, Pierce, 17, was one of dozens who showed up at the downtown Bend hotel for a workshop with internationally acclaimed trumpet player Randy Brecker.

As part of the Jazz at the Oxford series, Brecker played a Friday night show, got up Saturday for two hours of fielding questions from and playing with local musicians interested in polishing their skills, before returning to the stage Saturday night for two more shows.

A battered trumpet case at his feet, Pierce said he expected Saturday to be better than workshops he’d attended at the Oxford Hotel in years past.

“I’m just really excited because I’ve never been to one of these where they had a trumpet player,” Pierce said. “I’m excited to hear about his experiences.”

A founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears who’s played with everyone from James Brown’s trombonist Fred Wesley to Frank Zappa and Bruce Springsteen, Brecker, 69, did not disappoint. Holding court for nearly two hours on the minutia of his playing style and practice regiment, describing the tongue and lip techniques he uses to get the most out of his instrument, and demonstrating how a few bars from a melody can be twisted into an expressive solo.

The jazz series at the Oxford and the instructional seminars with musicians were both launched by Marshall Glickman, a part-time Bend resident and onetime president of the Portland Trail Blazers. A rabid jazz fan, Glickman started the jazz series five years ago and the workshops three years ago as a way of exposing his now-15-year-old, piano-playing son to talented musicians.

Glickman said over the years, he’s been impressed by how receptive musicians have been to his request they get up Saturday morning and take on the role of teacher.

“In this music, it’s easy. I’ve never heard a musician say, ‘meh, no.’ They want to do it,” Glickman said.

Bend drummer and music teacher Georges Bouhey helps Glickman organize the workshops, and served as one-third of the backing band put together to play with Brecker on Saturday morning.

Bouhey said jazz is the “one true American art form,” and jazz musicians are extremely conscious of the need to pass on their love of the style to the next generation.

“You know that something you really believe in isn’t going to continue on if you don’t,” Bouhey said.

Brothers Parker and Logan Lasala said they weren’t sure what to expect from Brecker, but hoped to learn something to improve their playing. Parker, a 15-year-old saxophonist, and Logan, an 11-year-old trumpeter, said they’re both solid players, but not as good as they could be.

“I really want to get better at soloing, just getting used to the key changes, and knowing what notes to play,” Parker said.

Brecker told the younger attendees to find peers to play with, as the musicians they meet today will inform their playing style for the rest of their lives. He fondly recalled playing with the other half of the Brecker Brothers group, his brother Michael, a clarinet player with whom he discovered the superior acoustics they could enjoy while playing duets in the bathroom.

“Now’s the time to form those band, those relationships,” he said. “I’m still most comfortable playing with those guys I came up with.”

Brecker name-dropped well over 100 musicians he’s played with over the years, recalling backing up Frankie Avalon as a high school student, serving as a reserve MG when he and Booker T of Booker T and the MGs were both attending Indiana University, and the day he and vocalist Al Kooper angrily quit Blood, Sweat & Tears.

“You’ll never make it without Al,” Brecker recalled telling his bandmates on the day they quit, adding that the follow-up album made without them went on to sell 11 million copies.

The Oxford Hotel will host two more free music education workshops in February and March. In February, organist Chester Thompson and Soul Vaccination will be featured, and in March, guitarist Diego Figueiredo and vocalist Cyrille Aimée will head the workshop.

“I’m just really excited because I’ve never been to one of these where they had a trumpet player,” Pierce said. “I’m excited to hear about his experiences.”

A founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears who’s played with everyone from James Brown’s trombonist Fred Wesley to Frank Zappa and Bruce Springsteen, Brecker, 69, did not disappoint. Holding court for nearly two hours on the minutia of his playing style and practice regiment, describing the tongue and lip techniques he uses to get the most out of his instrument, and demonstrating how a few bars from a melody can be twisted into an expressive solo.

The jazz series at the Oxford and the instructional seminars with musicians were both launched by Marshall Glickman, a part-time Bend resident and onetime president of the Portland Trail Blazers. A rabid jazz fan, Glickman started the jazz series five years ago and the workshops three years ago as a way of exposing his now-15-year-old, piano-playing son to talented musicians.

Glickman said over the years, he’s been impressed by how receptive musicians have been to his request they get up Saturday morning and take on the role of teacher.

“In this music, it’s easy. I’ve never heard a musician say, ‘meh, no.’ They want to do it,” Glickman said.

Bend drummer and music teacher Georges Bouhey helps Glickman organize the workshops, and served as one-third of the backing band put together to play with Brecker on Saturday morning.

Bouhey said jazz is the “one true American art form,” and jazz musicians are extremely conscious of the need to pass on their love of the style to the next generation.

“You know that something you really believe in isn’t going to continue on if you don’t,” Bouhey said.

Brothers Parker and Logan Lasala said they weren’t sure what to expect from Brecker, but hoped to learn something to improve their playing. Parker, a 15-year-old saxophonist, and Logan, an 11-year-old trumpeter, said they’re both solid players, but not as good as they could be.

“I really want to get better at soloing, just getting used to the key changes, and knowing what notes to play,” Parker said.

Brecker told the younger attendees to find peers to play with, as the musicians they meet today will inform their playing style for the rest of their lives. He fondly recalled playing with the other half of the Brecker Brothers group, his brother Michael, a clarinet player with whom he discovered the superior acoustics they could enjoy while playing duets in the bathroom.

“Now’s the time to form those band, those relationships,” he said. “I’m still most comfortable playing with those guys I came up with.”

Brecker name-dropped well over 100 musicians he’s played with over the years, recalling backing up Frankie Avalon as a high school student, serving as a reserve MG when he and Booker T of Booker T and the MGs were both attending Indiana University, and the day he and vocalist Al Kooper angrily quit Blood, Sweat & Tears.

“You’ll never make it without Al,” Brecker recalled telling his bandmates on the day they quit, adding that the follow-up album made without them went on to sell 11 million copies.

The Oxford Hotel will host two more free music education workshops in February and March. In February, organist Chester Thompson and Soul Vaccination will be featured, and in March, guitarist Diego Figueiredo and vocalist Cyrille Aimée will head the workshop.