Featured Musician - August 2010

Name : Frank Tribble

Frank Tribble

Instrument: guitar

Early Years/Education: I lived in Des Moines, Iowa for 34 years, but I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. I went to college in Des Moines and stayed there. I met my partner Ingrid there as well. She had lived in Portland in the ’70s and had always wanted to come back. She’s actually from Coos Bay. I had heard about the music scene, and the weather was a draw, too. I’ve always had a day job. I worked for the state of Iowa for years. I studied art education and taught art for awhile. For a long time I aspired to be a painter. But I’ve always played music since I was in high school. There was always a choice of continuing doing art or continuing doing music. The music won out.

Started on guitar in late junior high, ’63-’65. I was inspired by Roy Rodgers initially. He was a singing cowboy who played the guitar. I remember he came to my elementary school and played. My first guitar was a steel string acoustic my father bought for me at a pawn shop. The action was so high I could hardly play it. Soon after that I bought myself a better guitar with the money I made at Joe Shoe Repair. Joe listened to music in the shop while he repaired shoes, and I was one of the shine boys. On Saturdays I’d hear about a lot of great musicians while I worked. In high school I hung out with a crowd of guys who loved jazz. Every morning before class we’d hang out in the cafeteria and play our music. Most of the time it was jazz. The teacher who led the school band was a jazz trumpeter. I got to play guitar in the last show. My first gig was during my first semester in college at Drake University. There was a lot of great jazz in Des Moines at that time. People who were on their way to Chicago or Kansas City would stop in Des Moines. I graduated with an art degree and taught art for a time. I also worked for the state of Iowa’s civil rights commission. I taught civil rights law, diversity and related topics around the state. I also helped put together an arts festival called “I’ll Make Me a World” that’s still going on today. I also have a younger brother, Dwight, who lives in Los Angeles and is a vocalist. He’s sung with Pharaoh Sanders, Charles Lloyd, etc.

Portland: We moved to Portland in ’02. Somebody suggested I go to one of Ron Steen’s jams. I met saxophonist Noah Peterson at one of those; he called me a year later and offered me a job. We still play together. Skip Elliott Bowman and I met and had our first gig in Salem in ’03. We have a group called “Tribble Play.” The first time I met Andre St James was at a gig at Hump’s (on hwy 30 on the way to Astoria). Andre called me for another gig and introduced me to the drummer Nick Saume, and we decided to form the Andre St James Trio. I’m also in Thara Memory’s Super Band. I love playing funk and R&B, I grew up listening to that kind of music. I play with Richard Arnold, Ellen Whyte, and did have a three year stint at the Benson Hotel playing solo in the restaurant.

Musical Influences: Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Chic Corea, Jim Hall, Scott Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and the Adderly Brothers.

Most Satisfying Experience: One was recording my last CD, “Quite Frankly.” It gave me a chance to record my original music. Another is whenever I dream about a new tune and am able to remember it and write it down when I get up in the morning. It’s also very satisfying when playing with the trio and we’re all in the zone, that’s something special. The thing about this music is there’s always something new to learn. And there’s always going to be someone around who does something different with it. Another great experience was opening for Ronnie Laws and Kenny Loggins back in Iowa.

Favorite Recordings: Wes Montgomery, “Tequila”; Miles Davis, “Quintet Live at Carnegie Hall ’65”; Herbie Hancock, “Maiden Voyage,” “Headhunters”; Lee Morgan, “Search for the New Land” ; Chic Corea, “Elektric Band”; - Jim Hall and Ron Carter, “Alone Together”; Lifetime (Tony William’s group), “Emergency”; George Benson, “Live in L A”; and guitarist Scott Henderson’s music.

Discography: Most recent was “Quite Frankly” ’09. Mike Van Lieu on piano. It’s somewhere between contemporary and a little bit fusion-oriented. There’s Latin and pure funk tracks, too. It’s available on CD Baby and at Music Millennium. “Back Home,” ’03, is a duo project with a piano player from West Africa. “Merging of Souls,” recorded in the ’90s, was a partnership with another guitarist, Rod Leaverton. It has all original material with lots of great guest musicians.

Gigs: Every Wednesday, 6-9 pm, Aloft Hotel; most Saturdays, Doc George’s Jazz Kitchen; Jimmy Mak’s 8-3; Newport, August 13; Maryhill Winery, 8-28, all with the Trio; with the Thara Memory Super Band, Jimmy Mak’s, 8-14.

Future Plans: To record more. I really want to do something with the trio. We have a sound right now, and I’ve written one piece since I’ve been with them. I’d also like to find venues for the kind of music represented on “Quite Frankly.” To do this I’d have to put a new band together that wants to play my material.

-- by Rita Rega


Copyright 2009, Jazz Society of Oregon