Last year, when local promoter Marshall Glickman sought to join forces with the Oxford Hotel to put on a series of jazz concerts, he did so with two goals in mind. First, to expose local music lovers to quality jazz and, secondly, to offer couples a great date night out.
Getting top name players and groups to come to Bend proved easier than expected. Creating a true "club" and date night atmosphere in the Oxford's ballroom proved a bit more challenging, but was accomplished in style with café tables, soft lighting and an attentive wait staff on hand for food and drink orders.
Looking back at last year's shows, Glickman notes: "We put on five shows and sold 100 percent of the tickets. That proved that there is an audience in Bend not only of jazz lovers, but also of people who want to stay up late and hear world-class musicians in the comfort of an intimate jazz club setting."
From a patron's point of view, the season was a smash.
"As a former habitué of the New York jazz club scene, the shows at the Oxford and their ambiance made me feel like I was back in Manhattan again. I also loved the variety of jazz that was offered," says Robb Reavill of Bend,
Reavill will be back for season two for Jazz at the Oxford and it's a season with a powerhouse lineup.
"We want to have shows that appeal not only to a serious jazz audience but also to people that appreciate world-class music of any genre. We also wanted to have a mix of the best regional players along with bringing in some of the greats from bigger markets," says Glickman. "To get the latter, we're working with a jazz agent out of New York City. Jazz is cool in that the musicians are more open to playing unique bookings such as here in Bend and in small rooms. I am pleasantly surprised by the level of talent we have been able to book and will continue to bring in."
That means talents like alto sax great Bobby Watson, the former musical director of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, who has played with the great Wynton Marsalis. Watson went on to form the group, Horizon and now is deeply involved in the Thelonious Monk Institute's annual "Jazz in America" outreach program to high school students.
Watson, backed by internationally acclaimed, Portland-based drummer Mel Brown and an all-star group, will appear March 16 and 17. Another of the top-tier acts appearing in the Oxford series will be two-time Grammy-winning vocalist Diane Schuur who will be on stage November 25 and 26.
Portland's own pianist Tom Grant was on last season's bill and returns for the new series, only this time with a holiday show (December 22, 23) featuring vocalists Shelly Rudolph and Jackie Nicole.
The great Mel Brown (www.melbrownjazzcamp.com) will be back with his drum kit and several Hammond B-3 organ players for the Smokin' Blues and Jazz sessions on January 14 and 15. Get your funk on for this evening.
Portland pianist and songwriter Michael Allen Harrison will front a super group featuring Latin master Renato Caranto on sax, Julianne Johnson on vocals and Tim Ellis on guitar on April 13 and 14.
A month prior to that (February 18 and 18), pianist Darrell Grant brings his own unique style to the Oxford. He'll be backed by acclaimed drummer Brian Blade.
For those planning to catch at least three or four of the new series, a series pass is now being offered.
"Not only does the pass holder get a nice discount on the shows, they also get 15 percent off rooms, food and beverages at the Oxford through April. This is nice for people who plan on having guests in from out of town for a show," Glickman indicates.
He also is quick to add that, "the Oxford continues to work hard to assure top-notch service, a nice bar menu and an authentic jazz club atmosphere."
Because the Oxford operates the 10-Below restaurant adjacent to the ballroom venue, all ages are welcome at the jazz concert series. "I am hoping that our series inspires more kids to turn onto America's Music," says Glickman.
That's what keeps making many music lovers' date night extra special.
Jazz at the Oxford
Tickets are now on sale. A pass to the complete series is $199 (plus processing fee)
at bendticket.com. Prices vary for
tickets to individual shows.
For a complete schedule, visit