Growing up, Warren "Butch" Oree never had dreamed of becoming a musician. Though jazz was a constant presence in both his home life and social activities, the thought of actually getting on stage didn't cross his mind until he wandered into a music shop in his mid-twenties.
Upon learning that Oree had a long-standing interest in the upright bass that he had never pursued, the shop keeper, James Mitchell, accused him of cowardice - one thing that Oree, who was then a respected gang member, deeply resented.
Jazz bassist and composer Warren Oree has become a stalwart of Philadelphia’s jazz scene. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, his story is one of overcoming great personal adversity helped by, and in the service of, music.
If you’ve spent any time listening to live jazz in Philly in the past several decades, chances are you’ve heard Oree play. Yet, his road to musical success was a bumpy one. He says he wasn’t even sure that such a road existed in his early life.
The more you look and listen, the more you realize that classical music and jazz tend not to stay in separate lanes. Sometimes they won't even use turn signals. A good example is "With A Gentle Touch," from the CD, Classic Encounter by the Ramsey Lewis Trio with the Philharmonia Orchestra under James Mack. Warning: this is a habit-forming tune, as is the whole CD.
Music Lives at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, where, as WRTI's Jim Cotter reports, the role of jazz in the history of the United Nations is being celebrated - close to where the UN’s Headquarters might have been.
Jim Cotter’s full interview with jazz bass player Warren Oree.
A United Nations Jazz Jam: Musicians from Around the World, April 26th, 6 to 8 pm at the Woodmere Art Museum. Performers include Yoomi Kwan (Korea, on cello); Rosie Langabeer (New Zealand), on accordion and piano); Atiba (Trinidad, on steel drums); Gloria Galante (Italy, on harp); Qin-Qian (China, on Erhu); Koki Soul (French Canadian, guitar/percussion/vocals); Phyllis Hadad (Brazil, on piano) and Moguane Mahloeoe (South Africa, on percussion).