May 04, 2014 - Pam Van Dyke Crosby Celebrates Friends and Family at Jazz Depot


            “Have you ever read that thing that George Carlin wrote about birthdays?” asks Pam Van Dyke Crosby with a chuckle. “It's about how, when you're real young, you just love every birthday and you have to tell everybody how old you are. Later on, you go through a stage where you don't tell anybody how old you are, and you don't really look forward to celebrating your birthdays.

            “Then, after that, when you get to my age, every birthday is like, `Wow. Not another birthday.'”

            Sure enough, one of her own birthdays is coming up Sunday. And, given the array of talent that'll take the Jazz Depot stage to help her celebrate, “wow” may be the operative word.

            “If I had everyone on the show that I wanted to have, it'd last a couple of days,” Pam says. “But since I can only do two hours, I've had to kind of shave things down.”

            The Pam Van Dyke Crosby: Celebrating Friends and Family concert, however, looks like anything but a trimmed-back affair. In addition to Pam herself, the roster of performers includes the well-known area vocalists Sandy Gardner and Cindy Cain, Signature Symphony French horn player Mark Watson, and singers Barry Hensley, Kathy Rogers, and Lisa Hamil.  The latter two are, respectively, Pam's sister and daughter.

            “Lisa is going to do `Twisted' and that Norah Jones song, `Don't Know Why,'” notes Pam. “Kathy and I are going to do `Sisters,' and then all three of us will do `Sentimental Journey,' which is a song we always sang at our family gatherings. When we all got together, my mom would have anybody with any kind of musical talent, or maybe a talent for dramatic readings or something like that, get up and perform.”

            Later on, she adds, “We had a group, along with my other daughter, called Sister Sister. We did a Tulsa Jazz Society concert, and a dance at the Jazz Hall of Fame.”

            The family connection continues Sunday with the noted bassist Bill Crosby, Pam's husband, joining pianist Scott McQuade and drummer Tony Yohe as the band members for the evening. Mark Watson, says Pam, will perform with the trio for the instrumental “Straight, No Chaser,” in addition to playing on three of her vocal numbers. Watson is one her titular “friends,” as are Cain, Gardner, and Hensley.

            “I've known Sandy since she and [her pianist-composer husband] Chuck moved here, gosh, over 20 years ago, and I knew Cindy before that,” she recalls. “Those are the two singers I've known the longest and worked with the most. And Barry is one of the most knowledgeable jazz guys I know. He's been collecting music and going to see people ever since he was a teenager, and that's how we met.”

            Hensley may have one of the most intriguing appearances of the evening, as he plans to sing the big-band standard “Begin the Beguine” with only a drum accompaniment.

            “It's a Sammy Davis arrangement he found,” says Pam, “so he and Tony are going to do that.”

            Also scheduled are a couple of Cindy Cain numbers, “You're Driving Me Crazy” and “Who's Minding the Store” – the latter a composition by contemporary jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves – and “Everything Must Change” and “Almost Like Being in Love” from Sandy Gardner.

            “Cindy and I will do what we call our `Happy Days Medley' -- which is two happy songs,” Pam says with another laugh, “and Sandy and I will do `Killer Joe' as a duet.”

            Of course, with all this talent on the bill, she plans a big finish, “with as many of them as I can get on the stage.”

            “I can't think of a better was to celebrate than to be doing music,” she adds. “It's what I do. It's what they do. And it's a great way for me to spend a birthday.”

            Pam Van Dyke Crosby: Celebrating Friends and Family is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 4, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5. 

            The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014 Spring Concert Series.

            The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.