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.
(Biography courtesy Mel Brown Jazz Camp)