Oct 26, 2012 - Myron Oliver produces “Friday Night Showcase” Thank You Concert for Jazz Hall Fans and Patrons


      Few jazz acts have risen to the top of the local scene as quickly as saxophonist Myron Oliver.

            Although he arrived in Tulsa a few years ago, brought to town by his employer the Union Pacific Railroad, his first appearance at the Jazz Depot didn’t come about until November of last year, when he sat in at one of the Tuesday evening Depot Jams. A graduate of Memphis’s Overton High School -- a performing-arts institution -- the responsibilities of being a husband and father and working two jobs had led him to put his saxophone away after graduation. It was nearly a decade before he picked it up again.

            However, thanks in great part to the Depot Jams, he got his chops back pretty quickly. “[I] found a home there, a place for meeting other musicians, for having a good time, and for getting better at my craft,” he says.

            He was good enough by July to headline his own entry in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Summer Concert Series, doing a well-received show that featured a group of guest artists he’d met during his explorations of Tulsa’s music scene. Friday’s showcase is, he believes, an extension of that July 22 show.

            “Everybody called that one a showcase, too, and I guess it was,” he explains. “There’ve been lots of people I’ve met along my musical journey in Tulsa who’ve let me sit in at their various events. I want to extend that courtesy to other people with my own shows. I’ve got a who’s who of Tulsa greats on this one, and the thing is, they’ve all volunteered their time and talent for my event. It makes me feel like I’m almost as good as I think I am,” he adds with a laugh.

            That roster of musicians and vocalists includes such familiar names as Steven Schrag, Leon Rollerson, Rudy Scott, Olivia Duhon, Booker Gillespie, and Cynthia Simmons – among others.

            “Thea Hill is going to come in and do `Conga,’ a Gloria Estefan tune, and we’re going to have Cody Clinton, from the duet Cody & Desi, which is a little bit Red Dirt, a little county, a little funk. He’s an amazing singer-songwriter and lead-guitar player.

            “The Fabulous Two Man Band, Tom Basler and Roger Notlestad, will be sitting in. We’ll have Rockwell Ryan Ripperger, the international artist with [the rock band] Stephen Speaks, and Eric Himan, who’s also known, literally, worldwide.  He’s got a huge fan base, and he’s an amazing person. And I’ve got Dylan Whitney, a 15-year-old lead guitarist who will amaze you.  I met him on the Jenks Riverwalk. He was playing guitar to some recorded tracks, and when I heard him, it took me right back to Memphis. I thought, `Wow! I’ve got to know this dude!’”

            With such a variegated lineup, you might expect a lot of different kinds of music to come out of Oliver’s Friday Night Showcase. And you’d be right.

            “We’re pretty much going to have a progression as the night goes on,” he says. “We’ll start it out light, with jazz standards, a little bit of blues, some old-school soul music, and end the first set with an uptempo song. Then, n the second set, we’ll have a little R&B, a little funk, even some classic rock.  We’ve got some dancers coming in, and we’ll give people something they can dance to.

            “We want to give the audience a little taste of everything,” he adds, “which, to me, is what the Jazz Hall of Fame is all about – educating people about all kinds of music, and promoting and fostering the talent we have in Tulsa and this whole area.”

            The showcase, in fact, serves as a letter of thanks from Oliver and the other musicians to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, its staff and patrons, and the whole community.

            “That’s why, although it started out as a ticketed event, we’re doing it as a free show,” Oliver says. “I give so much credit to the Jazz Hall of Fame and the people I’ve met since I’ve been going there. We want to show how much we love and appreciate them, and send out a thank-you to the City of Tulsa, too.”

            “It was Myron’s idea to do this as a thank-you show,” adds Jazz Hall CEO Jason McIntosh. “Myron wanted to get musicians together to put on a concert that showed their gratitude to patrons and the community for coming together and supporting the Jazz Hall and all the institution does for music and creativity in the state of Oklahoma. This concert is a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the role our patrons play in supporting the Oklahoma Jazz Hall’s mission as we educate, nurture and promote music.”              

            Myron Oliver’s Friday Night Showcase is set to begin Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Admission is free; donations will be accepted. For more information, call Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

            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.