Articles and Reviews
This article by Maureen Davidson, published in the Spokesman Review, describes her experience at one of my solo gigs (Hobarts Jazz Club, Spokane).
“The Jazzman Cometh”
Jim Templeton is a master of all musical variations. Near the stage, a table of three is engaged in a quiet but intense conversation; just about everyone else is concentrating on the music as Jim Templeton slips from “God Bless the Child” to a whispering tone poem, “Rosario,” one of his own compositions.
Spokane’s Hobart’s Lounge is a mellow place this Tuesday, where half the mixed-ages audience are faithful jazz aficionados here to listen to whatever musical mood Templeton, a Spokane native, is spreading and to swap news and personal reviews about what’s coming and going. The rest are just winding down the evening in Spokane’s jazziest late night music spot.
The Templeton tour bus has been on a thoughtful journey tonight, transporting the audience via grand piano from Beethoven to be-bop in a remarkably smooth ride. Someone requests a demanding, abstract piece by Wayne Shorter. Sight-reading the wild flourishes of melody and jarring rhythm, the musician grimaces and scats, attacking the keys ferociously. The room seems to hold its breath as everyone is swept toward the precipice of the final chord, then burst into an almost relieved applause from which a melody emerges to change the mood, again. It’s an extraordinary musical evening.
There may never be an ordinary musical evening with this artist thought by many to be the finest pianist in the Inland Northwest. Performing as soloist, behind jazz vocalists like Stephanie Brush or cabaret singers like Annette Gorseth, leading the Jim Templeton Trio or his fusion quintet, Cosmic Dust, Templeton’s musical shape changes dramatically with each performance.
“In jazz, especially fusion jazz, the performer improvises over the structure of the piece, Templeton says. “As a performer, I often have some effect I want to create — sometimes it’s a simple thought like ‘soft’ or ‘primitive’.” “Behind the push of all these things, though, if you go far enough back its not even a musical but a more universal notion. Like an onion: the outside layer is the musical notes; further in, its the musical ideas; deeper in you get to archetypal concepts.”
As a composer, Templeton is versatile and appreciated by musicians who claim that this is his primary gift. On the strength of both — and a career of continuous musical accomplishment —Templeton recently learned he was awarded the 1993 Artist Trust Fellowship ($5000), an honor shared by only six Washington artists in all the visual, performing and literary arts.
Childhood training in classical piano was supposed to prepare him for a career as a concert pianist, but by his teens Templeton was learning jazz improvisation from Spokane’s Norm Thue, and performing with the “Frantic Five,” a high school jazz band that played around town, raking in a cool $5 each gig. While others of his age succumbed to the lure of rock n’ roll, Templeton set out on a lifetime exploration of the subtleties of jazz. After more than three decades of performing, teaching and composing, the artist has pushed and prodded 88 keys and a few other instruments to explore what countless variations of tone, color, dynamics, melody and rhythm can do to the human mind and emotions.
Here’s another article from The Spokesman Review, describing my establishing of a new jazz venue.
Live jazz makes comeback with shows at Neville
There’s a four-letter word that some area music fans haven’t heard in a while: Jazz.
It’s been more than a year since Hobart’s, Spokane’s one remaining jazz nightclub, shut its doors. A recent attempt to resurrect the scene with live jazz at the Shilo Inn fizzled.
Tonight will be the first show in the Spokane Valley’s Neville Auditorium, 1445 N. Argonne. Organizers plan to host live jazz performances there from 8 p.m. to midnight every other Friday until June 22. If all goes well, shows would continue every week after that, says Jim Templeton, a Spokane jazz pianist who is behind the move for the new venue.
“We have a lot of musicians that have just kind of molded away,” Templeton says. “There hasn’t been a real venue for musicians.”
The Jim Templeton Quintet, featuring jazz vocalist Cheryl Hodge, sax-player/flutist Gary Edighoffer, bassist Noel Waters and drummer Tom Schager will play the opening-night show.
The Neville Auditorium adjoins Miracles Book Store in the strip mall at Argonne and Mission. It seats more than 150 people.
There will be no smoking and all ages are welcome. Organizers have applied for a permit to serve beer and wine at the shows. Upcoming shows will showcase The Arnie Carruthers Trio, The Kenny Harkins Trio, Tuxedo Junction, Desafinado and others.
Jim Templeton has lived bucket-list dreams all his life, starting when he chose a different path than the “reasonable” one his parents wanted for him.
Electrical engineering? “I followed my love of music,” Templeton said. He taught and played jazz piano all over the world, from Florida to Denmark. Later on, he grew fascinated with healing touch and trained in craniosacral therapy, a form of very light massage that Templeton described as “borderline woo-woo.”
For a guy who was never touchy-feely, Templeton said, “using my hands to help people feel better” has been “one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.”
Another fulfilling dream that Templeton lived out was his jazz nightclub, Ivories, which opened in Portland in 2012 and closed early this year. Ivories had the best acoustics in town, Templeton said, and no shortage of artists eager to play there. But in the end it went the way of many startup nightclubs and restaurants.
“I kept putting money into it, until I realized I had to stop,” he said. “I don’t have the slightest regret. I’d do it again.”
At 72, Templeton’s bucket remains pretty full. He’s got three manuscripts about music to finish; he also wants to start a new combo and get back into the sort of funky fusion jazz that he used to play with his band, Cosmic Dust. “I’m itching to play that style again, creating musical landscapes with depth and stimulating my imagination,” he said.