Mel Brown - instructor and jazz drummer


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

Improve your skills and appreciation of jazz!

The mission of the Mel Brown Summer Jazz Workshop is to improve each participant’s performance skills and increase their knowledge and appreciation for jazz.

Vocalists wanted

The Mel Brown Summer Jazz Workshop is also open to vocalists! Singers will participate in vocal master class, jazz combos, vocal jazz choir, lectures, and jam sessions. Auditions are required prior to registration.

Space is limited, so contact us for audition materials today!

or e-mail

Workshop videos

Videos produced by OPB

that include a look at the activities and philosophy of the jazz camp as well as an interview with Mel Brown.

>>> watch now

Participants perform in both large and small jazz ensembles and attend seminars that cover various topics including theory, history, improvisation, the music business and music technology.

Participants have direct access to many of Oregon's finest jazz performers and teachers.

Learn about registration, expenses and accommodations

Download the participant handbook for informational purposes


Summer evening concert

An annual free outdoor concert near the campus - a wonderful tradition of the camp and a highly anticipated event in the community. Come listen to live jazz in the early evening led by Mel Brown with other guest artist more info coming soon


Mel Brown - jazz drum set instructor

An Oregon icon in jazz, drummer Mel Brown has been labeled the "Gentleman of Jazz," with a career spanning over 40 years. In recognition of his contributions to the cultural life of Oregon, Mel received the Governor’s Arts Award in 2002.

Mel set out on a quest to become a great drummer in the seventh grade, practicing 19 hours a day, 6 days a week. His professional career began with a stint with Earl Grant. Mel went on to be a staff drummer for the Motown Music Corporation, recording and touring with groups including the Temptations, the Supremes, and Smokey Robinson. He subsequently spent ten years working with Diana Ross, Suzanne Somers, Connie Francis, Pat Boone,and others.

The jazz artists Mel has played with reads like a "Who’s Who" of jazz, including Gene Harris, George Benson, Teddy Edwards, Joey DeFrancesco, Bill Watrous, Leroy Vinnegar, and many more. For the past six years, Mel has led bands three nights a week--including the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Quartet on Thursdays-at Portland’s Jimmy Mak's (listed by Downbeat as "one of the world’s top 100 places to hear jazz"). Mel has also been very involved in music education. His passion truly is in working with college and high school students. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Music Association, and the Mt Hood Festival of Jazz. He also has served as an adjudicator in the U.S. and beyond, and has conducted various jazz workshops.

Mel has received many local awards, and his sextet received first place in the Hennessey Jazz Search in 1989. The City of Portland proclaimed June 22, 1989 Mel Brown Day in recognition of his achievements. When Mel received the Governor’s Arts Award, David Hudson of the Regional Arts & Culture council wrote: "Oregon is widely recognized for its rich jazz scene, and the enormous following supporting that genre. Mel Brown is largely responsible for this phenomenon."


Gordon Lee, workshop director:

A composer, jazz pianist, arranger, conductor and music educator who is well known throughout the Pacific Northwest, Lee has taught at Portland State University, Portland Community College, Clackamas Community College and currently teaches jazz improvisation, jazz history and jazz piano at WOU. learn more about this musician


Learn about other faculty & instructors


For more information:

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