The Carrol Raaum Swing Orchestra

Dear Liza,

A clear, cold evening

Last night we went out to a new place to hear some old music. First, we took the magic 15 downtown to Killer Burger for dinner, enjoying the warmth and lights and people watching.

Warm lighting at Killer Burger

We walked down a block to The Rialto Bar, which is also a pool hall. It had a surprising amount of space for downtown, where square footage is pricey. We got Guinness, Two Towns Cider and vanilla vodka, and headed downstairs to the Jack London Bar for the music.

The music venue had a lovely basement-y feel, low ceilinged, dark walled, and warmly lit. A bar ran on one side, small copper topped tables faced the low stage, and everything had an old-time jazzy feeling. This was completely appropriate, since we had come to hear some vintage music, ala Count Basie, Cole Porter, and Glenn Miller. And this eleven piece group of trombones, trumpets, saxophones, a stand up bass, piano and drummer, delivered.

Eric Olsen, trombonist and frontman

At the break I got to talk with Marco Pissarro, who plays alto saxophone. He gave me a little background on the band.

Ellen Vanderslice swings one out

Carrol Raaum was a semi- retired clinical psychologist when he came to believe that music had healing properties for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other diseases that effect the brain. He put the band together to play at retirement homes and memory facilities as well as parties and celebrations of all kinds. Mr. Raaum passed away in 2008, but the band continues his good work.

Lovely copper topped tables play with candle light

Ellen Vanderslice and Morgan Dickerson both play trombone and also do vocals. The band played classics like “ Take the A Train”, but also a new arrangement of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale”. Some of the harmonies were hit and miss, but the overall effect was delightful.

Their ‘frontman’, the spokesman for the band, is Eric Olsen. He plays trombone and looks a little like Danny De Vito. After the show when I congratulated him on his ability to keep all those jazz musicians working together, he shook my hand and said, “Hell, I taught fourth grade for forty years. This is easy!” I can relate.

When it was nearly ten, the band was done for the evening, and so were we. We called a Lyft car and got home, glad to be out of the 32 degree night air and into our warm pajamas.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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