NOTE: Faculty appointments may shift based on camp numbers and/or availability.
Mel Brown: Drums/Camp Director
Gordon Lee: Piano/ Camp Director
Stan Bock : trombone
John Nastos: saxophone
Robert Crowell: saxophone
Clay Giberson : keyboards
Carlton Jackson: drums
Derek Sims: trumpet
Tim Gilson: bass
Christopher Woitach: guitar
Sherry Alves: voice
Dr. Diane Baxter: WOU to Camp Liason
Andreya Nicholson: Camp Mom
Laura Killip: Jazz Camp GA
Other Guest Artists will appear throughout the workshop.
An Oregon icon in jazz, drummer Mel Brown has been labeled the “Gentleman of Jazz,” with a career spanning over 40 years. In recognition of his contributions to the cultural life of Oregon, Mel received the Governor’s Arts Award in 2002.
Mel set out on a quest to become a great drummer in the seventh grade, practicing 19 hours a day, 6 days a week. His professional career began with a stint with Earl Grant. Mel went on to be a staff drummer for the Motown Music Corporation, recording and touring with groups including the Temptations, the Supremes, and Smokey Robinson. He subsequently spent ten years working with Diana Ross, Suzanne Somers, Connie Francis, Pat Boone,and others.
The jazz artists Mel has played with reads like a “Who’s Who” of jazz, including Gene Harris, George Benson, Teddy Edwards, Joey DeFrancesco, Bill Watrous, Leroy Vinnegar, and many more. For the past six years, Mel has led bands three nights a week–including the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Quartet on Thursdays-at Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s (listed by Downbeat as “one of the world’s top 100 places to hear jazz”). Mel has also been very involved in music education. His passion truly is in working with college and high school students. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Music Association, and the Mt Hood Festival of Jazz. He also has served as an adjudicator in the U.S. and beyond, and has conducted various jazz workshops.
Mel has received many local awards, and his sextet received first place in the Hennessey Jazz Search in 1989. The City of Portland proclaimed June 22, 1989 Mel Brown Day in recognition of his achievements. When Mel received the Governor’s Arts Award, David Hudson of the Regional Arts & Culture council wrote: “Oregon is widely recognized for its rich jazz scene, and the enormous following supporting that genre. Mel Brown is largely responsible for this phenomenon.”
A composer, jazz pianist, arranger, conductor and music educator who is well known throughout the Pacific Northwest. Although he is best known for his jazz performances and compositions, Lee is active in many styles of music. He has had commissions to compose chamber music and music for large ensembles from Oregon Symphony members, big band leaders, and vocalists including collaboration with Ghanaian singer Obo Addy on an orchestral suite in 2004. He has taught jazz studies at Western Oregon University since 1999 and is Executive Director of the award winning WOU/Mel Brown Summer Jazz Camp.
After earning a degree in music at Indiana University , Lee moved to Portland , Ore. , and began playing with one of the originators of jazz-rock fusion, Native American saxophonist and song writer Jim Pepper, an association that lasted until Pepper’s death in 1992. Lee has organized and presented many Pepper memorial concerts since then. In 1980 Lee moved to New York City and worked as a jazz pianist. He performed with such jazz and pop stars as Don Cherry, Bill Frisell, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and the Temptations. More recently Lee has worked with Bobby Hutcherson, Dewey Redman, Houston Person, Frank Foster, and Javon Jackson.
In 1985 Lee decided to escape the rat-race of New York and returned to Portland and became involved in music education at the college level. Lee began playing with drummer Mel Brown in 1986, a musical relationship that continues still. In 1989 the Mel Brown Sextet, playing Lee’s compositions and arrangements, won the international Hennessy Jazz Search, beating over 700 bands from around the world. The next year Lee’s CD Gordon Bleu won Best Jazz Recording of 1990 from the Northwest Music Association. Lee has three other CDs since then: Land Whales in New York featuring Jim Pepper, 1991; On the Shoulders of Giants with Leroy Vinnegar, 1993; and Rough Jazz with John Gross, 1997. His CD Flying Dream on the Origin Arts label features an all star big band from the Pacific Northwest , and One-Two-Three features solo, duo and trio pieces with Renato Caranto, Andre St. James and Carlton Jackson.
Lee received a Master’s of Music degree in conducting from Portland State University in 1999. He has performed all over the world: several times at the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz; the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles; the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; Les Ducs des Lombards in Paris; across Austria and southern Germany; Tokyo; Lima, Peru; and Istanbul, Turkey. He has performed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of David Amram and the Oregon Symphony under Norman Leyden and Bill Conti. With his unique experience in jazz, classical, world music and their blending, as composer, pianist and conductor, Gordon Lee blazes new paths. He continues to present highest quality original music while informing the public about the broad potential of music.