"If this band appeared in New York City, they'd be a sensation!" That was guitar great--and one-time Mel Brown bandmate--George Benson's reaction after hearing the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group open for him in 2003. This true all-star band has been a sensation for a long time—including a 20-year run on Thursdays at Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s (The Oregonian dubbed them “Jimmy Mak’s signature group”). A collective resume that reads like a "Who's Who" of NW jazz, blues, and soul, this group has the talent and confidence to be completely spontaneous--from their blistering solos to their improvised arrangements and segues.
MEL BROWN -- An Oregon icon, has been labeled the "Gentleman of Jazz," with a career spanning a half century. The city of Portland proclaimed June 22, 1989 "Mel Brown Day" in recognition of Mel's achievements as a musician and educator, receiving the Governor's Arts Award in 2002. Mel first made his mark as a Motown staff drummer, recording and touring with the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and many others. He subsequently spent ten years working with Diana Ross and other pop acts before giving up the road in 1991 and returning home to his first love: jazz. Mel has been a fixture in Portland ever since, leading groups six nights a week at Jimmy Mak's and other venues when he isn't backing jazz artists like Joey DeFrancesco and Benny Golson.
DAN BALMER -- Widely considered the defining sound of contemporary jazz guitar in the Northwest. Described by the Los Angeles Times as "the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be," Dan is one of the most original and creative artists to come from the fertile Northwest music scene. Dan has played and recorded with a long list of jazz greats, has released six CDs of his own, is a jazz educator and a noted composer. Dan leads his own groups and performs with jazz artists including Diane Schuur, Benny Green, and Jeff Hamilton.
RENATO CARANTO -- described as "one of Portland's most soulful jazz saxophonists" by The Oregonian," Renato is one of the most versatile, accomplished, soulful saxophonists anywhere. Arriving from the Philippines in '81 with only his horn, Renato has built an enviable career in Portland. After gaining a foothold in the local scene, Renato became one of the most sought-after jazzmen in the NW and beyond. In recent years, he’s toured with Grammy-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding and late country legend Merle Haggard. Talk about versatility!
LOUIS "KING LOUIE" PAIN -- "Portland's boss of the B-3" (The Oregonian) hails from San Francisco, where he played and recorded with a wide variety of top musicians: Tower of Power guitarist Bruce Conte, Santana saxophonist Jules Broussard, Edwin Hawkins vocalist Dorothy Morrison, and B.B. King saxophonist Bobby Forte. After moving north in '86, Louis continued the trend. His 2016 cd with vocalist LaRhonda Steele, “Rock Me Baby,” was honored by Downbeat as one of the “Best Albums of 2016.” Louis’ knack for playing exactly what's needed to further the song has made him Portland's "first call" organist.