There are many forms of jazz, from gritty subterranean bebop to boisterous New Orleans parade music—and over the past few years, Jazz at the Oxford has done a remarkable job presenting a wide variety. Which is good: Unlike perhaps any other form of music, jazz relies on clubs to present its musicians—at famed clubs, like the former Cotton Club in Harlem and Bay Area's Yoshi's or Al Capone's (still-operational) club in Chicago, the Green Mill. Traditionally, Bend has not been in the jazz circuit and lacked these venues, but over the past few years Jazz at the Oxford has worked as a pop-up jazz club venue.
While rock-n-roll developed through radio play, jazz continues to rely on these clubs and live performances, and this weekend is the second of seven installments for the fifth annual Jazz at the Oxford series, and it is an entry in the soft jazz category; more comfortable and conforming than challenging and conflicting. Lao Tizer, joined by four other musicians, lands somewhere around the category of Yanni or Kenny G—which for some is a criticism, and others a come-hither. (Not coincidentally, Ric Fierabracci on bass for the Bend shows has played with Yanni, and sax player Steve Nieves with Kenny Loggins.)
Tizer is at the front of this group of talented musicians. A West Coast piano player, Tizer is not gritty Mississippi River jazz, but something more like the soft rolling sounds of a Pacific Ocean beach. His piano riffs often soar and arc, although he also can pound them back to earth with quick change up to a few "power chords."
But jazz is all about the mixture of musicians on the stage, and Tizer is joined by Karen Briggs, who self-identifies as a "soul-o-ist" and "soulchestral groove," which are a bit misleading if groove is what you think of as hammering the dance floor of a New York City dance club. Rounding out the stage presence, although downplayed in the billing, Cuban-born Raul Pineda promises to bring spice to the mix—and to draw out some of the funkier themes from the musicians.
8 pm, Fri., Nov. 21 8 and 5 pm & 8:15 pm, Sat., Nov. 22.
Oxford Hotel, 10 NW Minnesota Ave.