What: Mel Brown Septet

When: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29, doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: Mt. Bachelor Riverhouse Jazz, Riverhouse on the Deschutes, 3075 NE 3rd St., Bend

Cost: $48 plus fees

Contact: riverhouse.com/jazz or 866-453-448.

These days it’s easy to find Mel Brown.

That wasn’t always the case. As a session musician for Motown Records in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the jazz drummer recorded and toured with artists such as The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Martha and the Vandellas. He returned to Portland in the early ’70s but then joined Diana Ross’ band, staying on the road with her through the mid-’80s.

Since then Brown has mostly stayed put in his hometown of Portland. By day he’s an accountant, but he still performs at least five nights per week, most regularly at Portland jazz hot spot Jimmy Mak’s. His eponymous septet, specializing in the hard bop sounds of such artists as Art Blakey and Miles Davis, formed in 1986, and more than half that time has been with the same musicians.

Does Brown ever miss touring life?

“Not anymore,” he said recently from home a few weeks before his septet’s shows to kick off the first Mt. Bachelor Riverhouse Jazz series at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes on Oct. 28 and 29.

“… I’ve done this for 60 years. I’m 72 years old. I don’t want to run like I used to,” he continued. “I want to be able to enjoy all my hard work.

“Some guys never lived this long because they were always on the road and it wore them out. … So instead of taking the gig because I had to take a gig, when people call for certain things, I just tell them, ‘No, I’m sorry, I don’t have time.’”

But Brown makes time for Bend. He performed at the Jazz at the Oxford series when founder Marshall Glickman ran it, and he’s moved over to the Riverhouse series with Glickman.

When Glickman, a former Bend resident, moved back to his native Portland, he stepped away from Jazz at the Oxford in its fifth series. A jazz fan, Glickman started the Oxford series to give his son Laz, who plays piano, more exposure to live jazz. His goal with the new series is to create an intimate, jazz-club atmosphere at the Riverhouse, he said.

“I’m committed to growing (and) expanding; I’m committed to the quality of the music and the quality of the presentation,” Glickman said.

Glickman isn’t concerned about going head-to-head with the Oxford, even with overlapping dates for three shows (both series have concerts slated Nov. 18 and 19, Jan. 13 and 14, and March 17 and 18). Tickets for the Riverhouse’s full series went on sale before individual tickets, and Jazz + Ski + Stay packages — including two lift tickets at Mt. Bachelor, two nights at the Riverhouse and two tickets to the Dec. 24, March 18 or April 15 shows — go on sale Friday. Glickman said series ticket sales were doing well.

“I like the people at the Oxford, but I’m not sure we had the same values at the end of the day about (the series),” Glickman said.

The Riverhouse series will bring a number of genre heavyweights to Bend through April, including the Benny Green Trio (Nov. 18 and 19), Yellowjackets (Feb. 17 and 18) and the Ravi Coltrane Quintet (April 14 and 15) to close out the series. Student ensembles from Portland and Bend will open the shows each night.

Brown has been one of the key proponents of Portland’s jazz scene since the ’80s, not only for his performances but as a teacher. He and his septet run the weeklong Mel Brown Summer Jazz Workshop at Western Oregon University annually; this year’s camp took place in early August.

The camp is Brown’s way of passing on the mentoring he received as a kid.

“In my neighborhood there were a lot of musicians, so you’d hear them practicing during the day,” Brown said. “And some of the guys would take you underneath their wings and say, ‘Come here, little kid, you want to learn this? Let me show you how to do it.’”

Brown started his professional career playing with organist Earl Grant. Martha Reeves, of Martha and the Vandellas, hired Brown for her band after hearing him play with Grant in Vancouver, Canada.

“(Her) opening act was a comedian (Redd Foxx), and I had known the comedian from Las Vegas,” Brown said. “… And they (her manager and Foxx) called Martha up about 4 o’clock in the morning and said, ‘Hey, come down; I know you’re gonna change your musicians, but you gotta come down to hear this drummer.’ And she came down and said, ‘OK, great, meet me in L.A. in two weeks,’ and that’s how things got started (with Motown).”

Brown ended up playing on hundreds of Motown records uncredited. He is also the uncredited drummer on George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” As a jazz drummer, Brown was able to read sheet music better than most of the Motown stable of musicians, but it took him a little while to get used to the soul, R&B and funk grooves the label specializes in.

“Stevie Wonder was the one who taught me how they laid down the groove in Detroit,” Brown said. “And he was little. He said, ‘Hey, hey, Brown, this is the way we do it in Detroit.’”

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