The Mel Brown Quartet: Tony Pacini piano, Dan Balmer guitar, Ed Bennett bass, Mel Brown drums.
If mainstream jazz is your bag, the Mel Brown Quartet brings you bop, ballads, blues and scintillating originals making you glad you have ears!
With over 100 years of collective experience, here's a group that knows the tradition and brings it boldly to the bandstand on every gig.
(George Fendel is a jazz historian & columnist for Jazzscene Magazine).
Jimmy Mak's was Portland's premiere jazz club for many years. It was voted one of the top 100 places to hear jazz in the world by Downbeat Magazine.
"The Mel Brown Quartet came together in the fall of 2002 at Jimmy Mak's, a popular jazz club in Portland, Oregon. All seasoned jazzmen the group has become a mainstay in the Portland jazz scene playing to enthusiastic, full capacity crowds at every appearance. The quartet, Tony Pacini on piano, Ed Bennett on bass, Dan Balmer on guitar and legendary drummer Mel Brown, present a variety original compositions and fresh takes of time-honored standards in the jazz tradition everytime they play.
The band members, all bandleaders in their own right, look forward to Wednesday night when the quartet performs at Jimmy Mak's.
Pianist/musical director Tony Pacini sets the stage for us: "Dan shows up with his guitar, Ed with his bass, Mel with his stickbag and
I show up with my music and piano mic. Tonight the room looks full. Dan tells me he would like to play Ed's tune Waltz For Theo (written for Ed's youngest son).
A fan comes up to me and asks how was my weekend. In response I pull from my book "Girl Talk", a popular tune from the 60's I had arranged that Sunday.
Next I select "Oldest Son", an original composition written for Mel by Dan. The band takes the stage. Bartender J.D. welcomes the audience promising an
evening of world-class jazz. One of us counts the tune off; the band hits and here we go."
-Marci W. Maitland
At a jazz club in Portland, OR called Jimmy Mak's in the Autumn of 2002, a group of bandleaders formed a quartet which would become known as the Mel Brown Quartet. Sometimes referred to as "The Wednesday Night Band" since they performed every Wednesday religiously for 15 years. All seasoned jazzmen, the group become a mainstay in the Portland jazz scene playing to enthusiastic, full capacity crowds at every appearance.
Considered the finest jazz guitarist in Oregon, Dan was the first guitarist and youngest individual to be inducted into the Jazz Society of Oregon's Hall of Fame. Dan has performed or recorded with jazz legends Joey DeFrancesco, Airto, Red Mitchell, Bill Mays, Steve Smith, Pat Martino, Bud Shank and Joe LaBarbara. As a popular bandleader and sideman Dan's unique guitar sound graces over 70 recordings.
Long considered one of the West Coast's premiere string bass players Ed has worked, toured and recorded with numerous legendary jazz figures including Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Ritchie Cole, Ernestine Anderson, Joe Henderson and Pete Cristlieb. Ed has been featured on two Grammy nominated recordings; Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band "Tanuki's Night Out" and Carmen McRae "At The Great American Music Hall."
The jazz piano artistry of Tony Pacini has been enthusiastically enjoyed by nightclub and festival audiences throughout the West Coast as well as in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. In addition to his own trio, Tony has performed with Antonio Hart, Benny Golson, Bill Henderson, Bud Shank, Byron Stripling, Carl Sanders, Chuck Israels, Chuck Redd, Curtis Fuller, Dan Faehnle, Dee Daniels, Dick Berk, Ernie Andrews, Hadley Caliman, Harry Allen, Leroy Vinenegar, Marlena Shaw, Mary Stallings, Nancy King, Rebecca Kilgore, Ritchie Cole and Terell Stafford. Additionally, Pacini is an On Air Host with KMHD Jazz Radio 89.1 fm Portland. An arranger and composer Tony is the musical director of the Mel Brown Quartet.
Mel performed with Motown legends Diana Ross and The Temptations before applying his distinctive style and consummate skill to the jazz idiom. In addition to leading several high profile combos, Mel's rock-solid time and high-energy solos have made him the drummer of choice for jazz superstars Leroy Vinnegar, Monty Alexander, Teddy Edwards, Lou Donaldson and Joey DeFrancesco. While on tour in Portland, visiting musicians from jazz to pop to rock have found their way to Jimmy Mak's where Mel ruled the room three nights a week.
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"The Mel Brown Quartet with pianist Tony Pacini, guitarist Dan Balmer, bassist Ed Bennett and Brown on drums has become a Wednesday night mainstay at Jimmy Mak's in the Pearl District.
This CD will explain the band's continuing popularity over the long haul. It opens with the Pacini composition, Dandyish, a sprightly piece with an easy to remember theme. Duke Ellington's Prelude to a Kiss gets an unfamiliar rapid fire treatment from both Pacini and Balmer, which the live audience loved, interrupting with cheers and applause.
Charlie Parker's Yardbird Suite is beneficiary of Pacini's piano with a nice share of block chords and his usual sparkling right hand. Ed Bennett contributes a melodic bass solo, followed by the swinging Balmer. It's great to see and hear Balmer's straight ahead chops.
Balmer shows the band's appreciation of club owner Jimmy Mak with his tune, One for Jimmy Mak. Brown leads off with a very brief drum roll, and then it's an off and running.
There is no weak link in either the band or the recording. It is solid through all 10 cuts, some of which include Smile, Gone With the Wind, Ticondeep, May Song and more." -BY DICK BOGLE, The Skanner
BUY "GIRL TALK" FROM CDBaby
"This group just keeps getting tighter and tighter. After a sizzling opening set at the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, it's only a matter of time before they're in demand in New York and beyond. Brown's buoyant rhythms propel this energetic and well planned live disc which was thoughtfully recorded with an audience in the studio at Kung Fu Bakery. The result captures the same intimate immediacy as they have at Jimmy Mak's every week, but with better recording capabilities, so we get to hear the tick of Mel's high hat, the intricate picking by bassist Ed Bennett, the chordal punch of Tony Pacini's piano, and the fluid, melodic guitar lines by Dan Balmer all with studio crispness. It starts with the heavy swing of Pacini's "Dandyish" and goes on a journey through the band's favorites, including the rapid-fire arrangement of "Prelude to a Kiss," and other originals by Balmer, Bennett and Pacini, including the freewheeling "Ticondeep" by Bennett. It's a fantastic album." -BY KYLE O'BRIAN, JAZZSCENE
KMHD Jazz Radio 89.1 fm
"High energy bop played with unbridled enthusiasm. " -George Fendel, Jazzscene May 2005.
"An exemplary set of tastefully swinging straight ahead jazz and tender ballads." -The Oregonian April 2005.
"Impeccably recorded and expertly delivered." - Willamette Week May 2005.
"Relentlessly swinging." -Victoria Times April 2005
In loving memory of Jimmy Makarounis, the home he gave "The Wednesday Night Band" - with it's infamous red curtains,
and with our deepest empathy and respect to the Makrounis family.
~Tony, ~Dan, ~Ed & ~Mel.