Jazz musician Esperanza Spalding and her Portland mentor, Thara Memory, won a Grammy together last Sunday. It was for best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalists. Memory talked recently with OPB’s Oregon Art Beat about the people who mentored him growing up.
“I was taught music in a way that was profound. I remember Big Lee coming by my house, listening to me play scales. ‘Is your mama home?’ ‘Yeah, Big Lee.’ ‘Miss Sarah can I take this boy on a gig?’ She put me in a suit and I went on a gig with this guy and he said ‘Here are the tunes that we’re gonna play.’ “
Spalding also took the Grammy for best jazz vocal album for Radio Music Society.