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Jan 07, 2015 - YOUNG JAZZ PERFORMERS SHARE BILL WITH VETERANS AT JAZZ DEPOT DOUBLE FEATURE

             It'll be another of the Jazz Depot's popular double-feature presentations Sunday, when two different trios combine for an evening of music.

             First up is the long-lived duo of guitarist Mark Bruner and multi-instrumentalist Shelby Eicher, a top-flight attraction on the regional music scene for decades. They'll be joined by vocalist Amanda Preslar, who's worked with the two for some time in area venues, notably the Full Moon Cafe.

             Bruner, Eicher, and Preslar will be followed by the Stephanie Oliver Trio, which for this performance includes young guns Josh Westbrook on guitar and Nathan Eicher on bass. All three have played the Jazz Depot stage before, with Oliver singing most recently in September's Gershwin tribute as well as at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame fundraiser held last August. She is also a fixture around town at such venues as Bodean Seafood Restaurant and the Tallgrass Prairie Table, often appearing with guitarist Frank Brown and bassist Jim Bates. 

             “I couldn't be more lucky as far as being given the opportunities I've been given to play jazz,” says Oliver, “despite maybe not looking like a person who would like jazz, as strange as that sounds. I mean, I'm moderately tattooed, and I'm younger-looking. We've got a lot of young people in the jazz community here, but I think based on looks, a lot of times, people think they know what kind of music a person is going to like.”

             So maybe those people could be forgiven for being surprised by Oliver's affinity for music that was most popular at least a couple of generations before her birth. She even admits to being a little surprised by it herself. But she's got a good idea why she likes the tunes from that era.

             “I just think it's so much fun,” she explains. “It's mostly happy music – guys like, gosh, Mezz Mezzrow, Chick Webb, Count Basie. There's just so much good stuff out there. I really like the whole 1940s style. And when it comes to big-band stuff, you get song lyrics that just aren't written like they are today. Now, it's the same two lines, a crappy hook, and then the song ends. It's disappointing, to say the least. So I think that's a lot of the allure in this [1940s] material.”

             Although her parents didn't listen to big-band music when she was growing up, she was exposed to it by a grandfather and great-uncle. But the real epiphany came for her several years later, when, on a visit to the Generations Antique Mall in Tulsa,  she ran onto three CDs of '40s music at bargain prices.

             “They had a Charles Brown CD and two others, and they all had two hours of big-band and swing songs on them,” she recalls. “They were all like a quarter each.”

             So, because of an investment of under a dollar,  Stephanie Oliver's musical path detoured. She'd been playing all-original tunes with a rock band, but once she heard the music of Charles Brown – the bluesy pianist and vocalist responsible for such songs as “Merry Christmas Baby,” “Driftin' Blues” and “Melancholy Madeline” – she knew that's the kind of thing she wanted to do.

             She just didn't know how to go about it.

             “I just didn't know who to talk to about a jazz trio-type thing,” she notes. “Then one night I was at [the late Tulsa jazz venue] Ciao, and my friend Annie Ellicott was playing with Frank Brown, and I  asked Frank, `Could I send you some songs, and you could tell me what you think about doing this?' And he liked it. Charles Brown [songs] – that's what the gig was built around.”

             Brown's material will be represented in her part of Sunday's show, Oliver says, along with such underperformed tunes as Dan Hicks' “Canned Music.”

             “I like surprising people, and seeing if they recognize the songs,” she says with a chuckle. “I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited about it.”        

              The Jazz Depot Double Feature is set to begin with Mark Bruner, Shelby Eicher, and Amanda Preslar at 5 p.m. Sunday, January 11, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Stephanie Oliver, Josh Westbrook, and Nathan Eicher are scheduled to play the second half of the event.

            Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.jazzhalltickets.com, or by calling 918-928-JAZZ. 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.  Refreshments will be available for purchase.

            The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014-5 Winter 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 preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.


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