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Jazz Binge 

The Oregon Piano Summit brings four pianists and 352 keys to The Oxford Hotel

Rarely do two pianists share the same stage. Even rarer is a performance with three. And four? That’s bonkers.

Yet an ivory drubbing jazz concert featuring individual sets by four of Oregon’s premier piano artists is exactly what’s in store for Bend Dec. 27 and 28 at The Oxford Hotel. Instrumentalists Gordon Lee, Darrell Grant, Randy Porter and Ben Darwish—while all jazz musicians—aren’t necessarily cut from the same stylistic cloth. In fact, University of Oregon graduate and youngster Darwish is involved in a multitude of projects including an experimental R&B folk collaboration called Morning Ritual that has featured vocals from popular sister act, The Shook Twins. A striking difference when compared to the other jazz traditionalists who are a part of this show.

Yet an ivory drubbing jazz concert featuring individual sets by four of Oregon’s premier piano artists is exactly what’s in store for Bend Dec. 27 and 28 at The Oxford Hotel. Instrumentalists Gordon Lee, Darrell Grant, Randy Porter and Ben Darwish—while all jazz musicians—aren’t necessarily cut from the same stylistic cloth. In fact, University of Oregon graduate and youngster Darwish is involved in a multitude of projects including an experimental R&B folk collaboration called Morning Ritual that has featured vocals from popular sister act, The Shook Twins. A striking difference when compared to the other jazz traditionalists who are a part of this show.

Known for tightly packed jams, Grant contributes jive melodies to the quartet, while Porter’s rolling fingers engage in a sort of playing-hard-to-get dalliance with the piano. And Lee—the mastermind who glued these musicians together—swings in with everything from acid jazz compositions to be-bop harmonies; making for one eclectic lineup.

Event organizer Lee says that is just one element that makes this performance so special. Both days will also include raucous sets of traditional jazz songs with all four artists on stage at the same time; two per piano.

“The thing is,” explained Lee in an interview with the Source. “Because we’ll be playing standards we didn’t want to rehearse it too much. There will be a lot of spontaneity. I have no idea what will happen! We haven’t actually all four gotten together before.” Separately each artist is captivating; together this performance ought to carry a disclaimer for its brain-scrambling potential.

Jazz at The Oxford 8 pm. Friday, Dec. 27 5 pm. Saturday, Dec. 28 8:15 pm. Saturday, Dec. 28 The Oxford Hotel 10 NW Minnesota Ave. Tickets $45 at bendticket.com

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...
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