Mel Brown - instructor and jazz drummer


Western Oregon University
Summer JAZZ Workshop August 2 - 8, 2015

Mel Brown Jazz Camp - Faculty

Stan Bock : trombone

Renato Caranto: saxophone

John Nastos: saxophone

Keller Coker: trombone

Robert Crowell: baritone saxophone

Clay Giberson : keyboards

Carlton Jackson: drums

Derek Sims: trumpet

Tim Gilson: bass

Christopher Woitach: guitar

Sherry Alves: voice

Chris Brown: drums

Other Guest Artists will appear throughout the workshop.


Mel Brown

Mel Brown, artistic director: A fixture on the Portland jazz scene and adjunct instructor at WOU. Known throughout the Northwest as a drummer, bandleader and educator, he’s been labeled “the gentleman of jazz” and “the musician’s musician.” Mel received the Governor's Arts Award in 2002.
read Mel's full bio on the home page


Gordon Lee

A composer, jazz pianist, arranger, conductor and music educator who is well known throughout the Pacific Northwest. Although he is best known for his jazz performances and compositions, Lee is active in many styles of music. He has had commissions to compose chamber music and music for large ensembles from Oregon Symphony members, big band leaders, and vocalists including collaboration with Ghanaian singer Obo Addy on an orchestral suite in 2004. He has taught jazz studies at Western Oregon University since 1999 and is Executive Director of the award winning WOU/Mel Brown Summer Jazz Camp.

After earning a degree in music at Indiana University , Lee moved to Portland , Ore. , and began playing with one of the originators of jazz-rock fusion, Native American saxophonist and song writer Jim Pepper, an association that lasted until Pepper’s death in 1992. Lee has organized and presented many Pepper memorial concerts since then. In 1980 Lee moved to New York City and worked as a jazz pianist. He performed with such jazz and pop stars as Don Cherry, Bill Frisell, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and the Temptations. More recently Lee has worked with Bobby Hutcherson, Dewey Redman, Houston Person, Frank Foster, and Javon Jackson.

In 1985 Lee decided to escape the rat-race of New York and returned to Portland and became involved in music education at the college level. Lee began playing with drummer Mel Brown in 1986, a musical relationship that continues still. In 1989 the Mel Brown Sextet, playing Lee’s compositions and arrangements, won the international Hennessy Jazz Search, beating over 700 bands from around the world. The next year Lee’s CD Gordon Bleu won Best Jazz Recording of 1990 from the Northwest Music Association. Lee has three other CDs since then: Land Whales in New York featuring Jim Pepper, 1991; On the Shoulders of Giants with Leroy Vinnegar, 1993; and Rough Jazz with John Gross, 1997. His CD Flying Dream on the Origin Arts label features an all star big band from the Pacific Northwest , and One-Two-Three features solo, duo and trio pieces with Renato Caranto, Andre St. James and Carlton Jackson.

Lee received a Master's of Music degree in conducting from Portland State University in 1999. He has performed all over the world: several times at the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz; the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles; the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; Les Ducs des Lombards in Paris; across Austria and southern Germany; Tokyo; Lima, Peru; and Istanbul, Turkey. He has performed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of David Amram and the Oregon Symphony under Norman Leyden and Bill Conti. With his unique experience in jazz, classical, world music and their blending, as composer, pianist and conductor, Gordon Lee blazes new paths. He continues to present highest quality original music while informing the public about the broad potential of music.


Derek Sims

is an in-demand trumpeter in Portland’s jazz and classical music scene. Derek graduated with honors from The University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s of Music degree. While at Michigan, he studied with Armando Ghitalla (Boston Symphony) and Charles Daval (Montreal, Seattle Symphonies). After college, Derek performed on Princess Cruise Lines and toured over 40 countries in two years.

Derek has also performed with many different groups in the Portland area including: Mel Brown Septet, Carlton Jackson/Dave Mills Big Band, The Oregon Symphony, Columbia Symphony, Big Horn Brass, Alan Jones Sextet, Bobby Torres Ensemble, Soul Vaccination, Pepe and the Bottle Blondes, Pink Martini, and Dahlia.

He maintains a private teaching studio, directs the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Jazz and Theory Programs, and is a clinician and faculty member of the WOU/Mel Brown Summer Jazz Workshops.

Currently Derek can be heard Tuesdays with the Mel Brown Septet at Jimmy Mak’s in Portland. With Skip VonKuske, Derek co-leads a new project, Tranzlucid, a combination of electronica, jazz, soundscapes, and trance-like sonic layers. Derek also plays with the Down Band, founded by Keith Schreiner, and takes electronica in a similar direction. He also appears with different bands in the area as a sideman in both jazz and classical venues. | ph:503-287-4334


For more information:

Contact the Music Department at Western Oregon University
503-838-8275 or e-mail