Sunday, August 26, 2012
A Kansan Walks Into a Portland Bar
Hankering for live music while stranded without transportation in a suburb northeast of Portland's downtown last Sunday evening, I dejectedly cross-referenced local listings against Google Maps. I spotted a nondescript post for a 8:30 p.m. "jazz jam" at a joint with the unpromising name of Clyde's Prime Rib Restaurant and Bar. It was exactly one mile away. I began walking.
I was encouraged to find that the parking lot at Clyde's was full. I was even more pleased when I secured the last open seat at the bar of the lounge that housed the jazz jam. Host Ron Steen, a personable drummer, seemed to know all sixty people in the room. (He even chatted up a sweaty stranger at the bar.)
The house band was impressive. When guests began to arrive, however, I felt as if I'd entered a jazz lover's dream. A rhythm section of bassist Essiet Essiet (Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Bobby Watson) and drummer Dick Berk (Ted Curson, George Duke, Cal Tjader) supported a bunch of lesser known but equally impressive musicians. The most immediately distinctive character was David Leshare Watson. He's something else.
I don't know if my sublime experience was a result of karmic serendipity or if the city's jazz scene is on fire. Either way, I wish I wasn't currently sitting 1,803 miles from Clyde's.
(Original images by Plastic Sax.)