Elevate Unity Benefit music series presents a tribute to Mel Brown w/ The Chris Brown Quartet f/ Mel Brown + special guests Shirley Nanette & Julianne Johnson
Friday, August 13th, 2021
Doors open: 5:00 pm
Event begins: 5:30 pm
Christopher Brown (Saxophone)
George Mitchell (Keyboard)
Ross Garlow (Bass)
Mel Brown (Drums)
Born and raised in Portland, Christopher is an acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, and educator who seeks to be a voice within the advocacy of Jazz music and American culture. And through the expansive range of groups that he has assembled and/or performed with— which range from duos to Jazz big bands to military marching bands and orchestras—his musical and personal experiences have led him towards an interest in synthesizing the principles of Jazz with the day-to-day practicalities of life. And if there is one imprint that Christopher hopes to leave in this world to make it better, it would be to create one that runs on art, as it would necessitate everyone learning to embody the mindset of an artist.
As the youngest son of Portland’s own Mel Brown, Christopher’s life in music was cultivated by the healthy Jazz culture that surrounded him here in the late 80’s and early 90’s. And through the musical tutelage of his father, it would plant the seed for how he’d integrate himself into the broader culture of Jazz outside of Oregon (namely NYC). And as such, he’d go on to garner numerous local, state, and national awards as a youngster, one of which included winning the top high school small group award by Down Beat Magazine in 1995, as well as an opportunity to perform with Wynton Marsalis at the Alladin Theater in Portland. And lastly, he was cast as an extra in the 1993 movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” starring Richard Dreyfuss. As an adult, those seeds have sprouted into a 20-year career in the military between the Marines and Army, two music degrees from Rutgers University, a four-year stint as a professor at his alma mater, international tours with artists such as Roy Hargrove, as well as many other performances with artists such as Branford Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Randy Brecker, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, David Sanborn, David Liebman, Kamasi Washington, Stanley Cowell, Vic Juris, Sean Jones, Chuck Israels, Bobby Watson, Geoff Keezer, John Pattitucci, George Colligan, Paquito D’Rivera, and many more. Not to mention his having been cast as another extra in the movie “American Gangster,” starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, as well as commercials for Master Card, the History Channel, and re-enactment scenes for the Maury Povich show. And lastly, a performance in Beyonce’s award-winning “Countdown” video.Mel Brown:
Known by the monikers “The Godfather of Portland Jazz” and “The Gentleman of Jazz,” Mel—born and raised in N.E. Portland—has created an international reputation that spans 50+ years, half of which found him serving as one of the staff drummers for the Motown recording label, where he’d perform with all of the most notable artists that were signed to the company throughout the late 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s (the most notable to his career, arguably, is that of the Temptations and Dianna Ross). And since his return to Portland in the mid-70’s, he has been one of the chief architects behind having helped to create the legacy of Jazz that we now know it to be here in the greater NW region. And because of his efforts, and commitment to excellence, he can easily be credited as having helped to create the environment needed to birth several generations of musicians that have gone on to achieve national and international reputations of their own, such as Esperanza Spalding, Liv Warfield, Ben Wolfe, Jay Collins, Phil Baker, George Mitchell, Thara Memory, Ron Steen, Chris Botti, Christopher Brown, Greg Goebel, Bruce Carter, John Nastos, Paul Mazzio, Farnell Newton, Warren Rand, Renato Caranto, Essiet Okon Essiet, Gary Hobbs, Dan Faehnle, and the late great Carlton Jackson. He was also quite instrumental in having helped to create and promote the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, as well as the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. And lastly, his contribution to education can really be felt by the scores of musicians who were participants of the Mel Brown Jazz camp over its 20-year existence, in addition to all who may have participated in school bands from the 70's into the late 90’s throughout the entire Portland public school system. Brown is also the recipient of awards such as Mel Brown Day June 22nd, 1989, JSO Hall of Fame Inductee 1999, and the recipient of the PDX Jazz Festival’s Jazz Master award 2017 just to name a few.Shirley Nanette:
Shirley Made her debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1981, conducted by Norman Leyden. She appears as one of the “Pops” concert favorites. She has also appeared as guest soloist with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Seattle, Spokane, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Tucson, San Diego, Honolulu, Long Beach, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
In 1983, competing against several thousand contestants throughout the United States, she won the First “Star Search” aka “Fantasy” national talent competition on NBC Television. Shirley was recognized as “Best Female Vocalist in Portland” from 1981 to 1991. She appeared in the stage play “The Colored Museum” written by George C. Wolfe, in a parody of Josephine Baker. In 2000, she appeared in Truman Capote’s “The Grass Harp” performed at the Lakewood Theatre in Lake Oswego, for which she received an Artistic Merit award from the theater company.
Shirley was chosen twice as the only jazz vocalist to be represented by the Oregon Arts Commission. In May of the following year, she began the task of making her first recording entitled “See You Later”. It was released in 1992.
Julianne Johnson: Renowned national Jazz, Soul, & gospel vocal powerhouse and surprise special guest..
Description: This benefit music series will feature Portland's top Soul, Latin & Jazz bands.
During the shows, we will spotlight positive tangible commentary from community activists, select nonprofits, and social equality advocates sharing ideas and strategies to unite our divided country.
Unity Benefit Music Series
Facebook Live Streaming
Seating is limited due to the city and state restrictions. Reservations are suggested in order to ensure entry. Botanist:
For those unfamiliar with Botanist
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