It took trombonist and composer Stan Bock more than 20 years to realize
his dream of becoming a full-time jazz player. With the release of his
new CD and work with the Portland area's top musicians, he's living the
dream to the hilt.
The key event for Bock, who spent those 20 years touring with Air Force
bands, was his first trip to Portland in 1987, when he discovered the
triving jazz scene. "'Wow,!' I said. 'This is what I want to do.'"
His most vivid memory of that visit was hearing the Mel Brown Sextet.
"I loved that band." says Bock, 52. "So I decided that every
opportunity I had, I'd try to play with those guys."
A decade later, drummer and bandleader Brown turned his celebrated
six-piece unit into a septet to include Bock, who is also a member of
Brown's soul jazz quintet.
"I've seen his growth," Brown says. "He's got something to say
One reason for that grownth was the caliber of area musicians Bock
worked with, including members of the Rob Scheps and Carlton
Jackson/Dave Mills big bands, the Bobby Torres Ensemble and Thara
"In those bands," Bock says, "there are no prisoners taken, you have to
bring it strong everytime. The result is there's more energy in what I
That energy bursts from his new CD, "Night Grooves"--which he'll debut
Wednesday--a collection of Latin, funk and soul jazz tunes highlighted
by originals by Bock and other Portland-area composers.
Both smooth and tough, Bock's compositions feature dramatic melodies
often played in dense harmony by five horns, and rhythms that swing or
shuffle with passion and precision. It's also a very marketable sound
today, with its Hammond organ and in-the-pocket beats.
"Night Grooves" also is the realization of another of Bock's dreams.
"I came to bebop kind of late," he explains. "I was living in remote
places where there wasn't any jazz; what we heard was mostly Motown and
other Top 40 stuff of the '60s and '70s. Most of the musicians on this CD
have played that type of music. So this goes back to our school days."
At that time, Bock though he might follow his father, a high-school
band director, into teaching. And he does teach at Willamette
University in Salem, where he lives. But Bock always wanted to be a
performer,and now he's put himself at the heart of a scene that once
appeared a distant paradise.