The "Jazz Stars Reunion"
fundraiser at 7:30 p.m. Mar. 15, at the Newport Peforming Arts
Center (PAC) will benefit the PAC acoustics upgrade and remodeling
project. Hosted by Twylah Olson, this "reunion" features Gene
Diamond, Mel Brown, John Bringetto, Jim Hughart, Yevette Stewart
and Jof Lee.
Gene Diamond (vocals) has performed on
television, in concert halls, intimate nightclubs, jazz festivals,
and on radio. Included in his stops is the Steve Allen Show, the
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Allen Ludden's Gallery, and his own
PBS show, "On Tour With Gene Diamond," which had a two-year
run. He has appeared as featured vocalist with such groups as
Ramsey Lewis Trio, Gene Harris and the Three Sounds, Quincy Jones'
Orchestra, Bill Cosby and was an integral part of the Ray Charles
Show for over two years. He tours annually with HB Barnum
Orchestra, performing at the pleasure of the Canadian
Brownis a fixture on the Portland jazz scene and is known
throughout the Northwest as a drummer, bandleader and educator.
He's been labeled "the gentleman of jazz," and "the musician's
musician." Mel performed with Motown legends Diana Ross and The
Temptations before applying his distinctive style and consummate
skill to the jazz idiom. His passion is in working
with college and high school students, wherein he began the Mel
Brown Summer Workshop for student musicians in the l990s. He sees
it as his job to "pass on" the knowledge he's received to younger
players and enjoys doing it. Mel has served on the Board of the
Portland Youth Philharmonic, performed a number of times with the
Oregon Symphony and was named to the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of
Fame in 1999.
John Bringetto plays trumpet,
flugelhorn, saxophone, and flute, as well as performing on vocals.
He has played the jazz chair in the Stan Kenton Neophonic, and has
backed such singers as Nancy Wilson, John Davidson, Johnny Mathis,
Bill Medley, Frankie Avalon and BB King. After sailing
around the world for 10 years playing music in many ports along the
way, John and his wife sold their sailboat in Brisbane, Australia
and moved to Newport, OR in 2009. An avid educator, John became
Band/Choir Director of Newport High School, director of Lincoln
Pops Big Band and has a jazz duo, Bringetto-Cameron Jazz Orchestra,
which performs regularly along the Oregon Coast.
Hughart lives in Southern California working primarily in
the recording studios where he has participated in recording
soundtracks on over 200 record albums, more than 300 motion
pictures and countless television shows. He has been honored by
National Academy of Recording Artists with the Most Valuable Player
Award. He's played bass for Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tony
Bennett, Peggy Lee and Sammy Davis, Jr. - to name a few - and
worked as music arranger and performer for Natalie Cole's
"Unforgettable" album, touring with her for over eight
Of special guest vocalist,
Ms. Yevette Stewart, the late internationally known
jazz critic Leonard Feather said: "Stewart is that rarity, a young
singer who has jazz roots (a touch of Dinah Washington?), good
taste in tunes and plenty, plenty of soul." Feather heard Stewart
when she first came to Los Angeles as part of Christlieb's quartet.
And he said in his review: "...Whoever said there were no real jazz
singers coming up evidently has not heard Stewart."
The idea of treating the piano as
another horn is an important facet of Jof
Lee. After three decades of studies, performances, and
appearances in venues through Canada, Europe, Japan and the U.S.
while based at first in Colorado and then in New York, in the early
1980s Jof relocated to the Pacific Northwest, where he became the
musical director/pianist for beloved Portland vocalist Marianne
Mayfield, and in the late 1980s began a long and fruitful
relationship with the legendary bassist Leroy
Vinnegar. He currently works and travels with his own trio, or
as a soloist, performing both domestically and
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