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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Southern, Meet Western

Bruce Forman and Cow Bop crossbreed jazz and country

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Without the traditional suit and tie, and instead country clad in 10-gallon hats, oversized belt buckles reserved for rodeo champions, pearl snaps and bolo ties, Cow Bop are snappy dressers for Central Oregon ranch life; but not what one would expect to see onstage at a jazz concert. An unlikely romance, southern meets jazz meets swinging cowboy western ditties, in a genre that belongs to Cow Bop alone.

The too-hick-to-be-square group has been around since 2003, touring extensively, and even winning the Route 66 Challenge in 2004, traveling the length of the historic highway with only 100 bucks and no scheduled gigs, an impressive and uniquely Americana feat. Imagine Asleep at the Wheel meets Charlie Parker.

One thing Cow Bop does keep traditional is a high caliber of jazz musicianship. There is a sure-footed maturity to the five members starting with the expertise of internationally acclaimed guitarist Bruce Forman. Forman wrote the book on jazz guitar, literally. It's called "The Jazz Guitarists Handbook," and he wrote the majority of the soundtrack for Clint Eastwood's 2004 film, Million Dollar Baby. He leads the crew with a deft hand for incorporating jazz phrasing into country songs. Saxophone and trumpet contributions from David Wise add a New Orleans element to the mix with youngsters Alex Frank and Jake Reed holding down percussion on bass and drums. Foreman's wife, lovingly called Pinto Pammy, adds vocals in a bright and clear alto that ranges from twangy to peanut butter smooth.

Cow Bop takes on recognizable classics and their own original tunes with meandering horn solos and technical guitar waltzes that can sound straight out of a speakeasy jazz club and sometimes, in true cowboy fashion, punctuate chorus and verse with a literal cow moo.

Bruce Foreman and Cow Bop

Fri., March 14, 8 pm.

Sat. March 15, 5 pm & 8:15 pm.

The Oxford, 10 NW Minnesota Ave.

$39.

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