Piano Man

February 23, 2009

My brother stepped off a plane in Portland on Saturday. We lived together for a couple years before he fell in love and followed his heart and future wife to Europe.

I’d often fall asleep at night listening to J playing jazz tunes or practicing scales after midnight. It’s been years since I’ve fallen asleep to the sound of my brother’s inspired piano playing.

I was out walking in early January when an idea jumped into my thoughts: what if J had a gig while he was in town? And he could play with his buddy, Ray? And it could be a fundraiser for Isis Initiative?

I walked into Block 15 and spoke with Nick and Kristen, the owners. As luck would have it, they said they’d been discussing their desire to feature more jazz musicians, particularly in February, in advance of Mardi Gras.

And so the idea went warp speed into a reality. J e-mailed Ray. An upright bassist, Ray agreed to play. J wanted a horn player and Fred Berman signed on. Natalie offered to help with promotions. She designed a great flyer and sent press releases to the local media. Ika Fifita posted the flyers all over campus and at local businesses.

Tonight J’s at Ray’s place. They’ve been rehearsing, picking up where they left off over a decade ago. They are laughing, discussing key changes and songs for their set lists and drinking Oregon beer. 

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” 

It’s a win for everyone. Nick and Kristen support local musicians and get cookin’ jazz to match their Cajun cuisine on Mardi Gras. J and Ray get to have fun and play together. I get to hear and watch my brother play….a delight that surpasses words. And we’ll raise funds for Isis Initiative.

As J said: good food, good beer, good cause.


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