Pink Martini Percussionist Derek Rieth Dies At 43

OPB | Aug. 22, 2014 4:28 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 24, 2014 10:06 a.m. | Portland

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Portland percussionist Derek Rieth has died. He was to have performed this weekend with his longtime bandmates, Pink Martini, at the Oregon Zoo.

An empty stool, bongos, and flowers made for a silent tribute to Rieth's absence at the front of the stage during Pink Martini's Friday night show.

An empty stool, bongos, and flowers made for a silent tribute to Rieth's absence at the front of the stage during Pink Martini's Friday night show.

April Baer / Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rieth performed with the ensemble for years, adding many kinds of rhythms to the band’s polyglot sound. But the music of his heart was Afro Cuban and Brazilian beats.

Rieth traveled to Cuba, Brazil, and other places to learn their traditions. Friends describe him as having an encyclopedic knowledge and proficiency on many different instruments.

He co-founded the Lions of Batucada - a rhythm and dance ensemble that performed on its own and with many other groups, including the Oregon Symphony. Rieth worked with Milagro Theater on dance productions, and taught students at many levels.

Pink Martini says the band will release an official statement within a few days. A statement on the band’s Facebook page says the shows will go on, as the band believes Rieth would have wanted.

The Portland Police Bureau announced that Rieth apparently died by suicide. He was found during a welfare check Wednesday.


Portland Police Bureau Press Release

43-YEAR-OLD PORTLAND MUSICIAN DECEASED AFTER APPARENT SUICIDE ON WEDNESDAY

News Release from Portland Police Bureau
Posted on FlashAlert: August 22nd, 2014 6:08 PM
On Wednesday August 20, 2014, at 8:09 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 5100 block of Southeast Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard on a welfare check.

The reporting party was concerned for the welfare of 43-year-old Derek Jordan Rieth after not hearing from him for several hours.

Officers arrived at the residence and located Mr. Rieth deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, which appeared to be an intentional act. A shotgun was located at the scene and seized as evidence.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and confirmed that Rieth died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and ruled the death a suicide.

Rieth was a member of the music group Pink Martini.

This information is being released due to significant media interest in the case.

Help is available for community members struggling from a mental health crisis and/or suicidal thoughts.

Suicide is preventable.

The Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center is available 24 hours a day at (503) 988-4888.

If you or someone you know needs help with suicidal thoughts or is otherwise in an immediate mental health crisis, please visit Cascadia or call (503) 963-2575. Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has an urgent walk-in clinic, open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Payment is not necessary.

Lines for Life is also available 24 hours a day at (503) 972-3456.

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