New Jazz City: Corvallis’ Music Scene Has a Way of Sneaking Up on You

2A great thing about music: sometimes a phenomenal band forms, like a harmonic phoenix, from the ashes of another. The demise of Mother Love Bone made Pearl Jam possible. Guns n’ Roses formed from the shattered remnants of Hollywood Rose and LA Guns. And, if you happened to be at Imagine Coffee on Wednesday evening, July 24, you would’ve witnessed the rise of an aural jazz phoenix, From Bebop to Hip Hop. In a nearly three-hour set, musicians from Red Hour jammed with guys from Manhattan on the Rocks, and beautiful music was made. Their jams were so magnanimously mucilaginous, so artistically fluid, you’d think they’ve been playing together as a cohesive unit for years.

Bryson Skaar on piano and Matthew Holmes on bass played together in Red Hour, and were looking for “some new projects, some new people… we’ve got Tommy [Brownson, on drums] who’s principally funk and hip hop, and he plays a lot of metal, but we really like his feel,” Holmes says. Adam Cochran also sat in part of the set on drums. Holmes describes his style as “more straight-ahead jazz.”

Erik Crew was on guitar, and Josh Hettwer blew sax with wild abandon. Joel Stevens is the usual sax player, but he wasn’t at the Imagine gig. Holmes says Red Hour “didn’t necessarily break up, we’re just playing other projects.” Jazz often works that way. “We’re an amalgam of people… we’re working on getting a website, we just did a few recordings this last week. We’re looking to do some more gigs.”

Brownson, Skaar, and Crew live in Corvallis; Holmes and Hettwer live in Portland. Their music lives in the everywhere, vibrating funky through the Universe while the spirits of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker smile down mad approbations of melodic bliss.

For those of you that complain about the Corvallis music scene… there may be a lack of infrastructure, but all you need is right around the corner.

By Seth Aronson