Grammy winning Portland jazz musician Thara Memory dies at 68

Local music teacher faces sex abuse charges

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Grammy winning Portland jazz musician and instructor Thara Memory has died at 68, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Memory suffered from diabetes and had been in poor health in recent years.

Memory left behind an impressive legacy of music but more recently had been indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury on eight counts of third-degree sex abuse, two of attempted sexual abuse, and for harassment.

Police said last February that there may be other victims. The status of the case Monday was not immediately available.

Memory won a Grammy with his former student Esperanza Spalding in 2013 for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists for the song "City of Roses" from her album "Radio Music Society." The track also features students from his American Music Program.

He founded the music program in 2005 as a way for children to take up jazz instruments and perform.

In May  2015, Memory's students reached an extraordinary achievement. His high school band won the Jazz at Lincoln Center's prestigious Essentially Ellington competition in New York.

Artistic director Wynton Marsalis, who was a judge, said the Portland children impressed him by memorizing one of Duke Ellington's most difficult pieces, "The Tattooed Bride."

From his bio:

Thara has a long history of teaching youth, passing on the traditions of America's art music, jazz. He has taught courses at Portland State University, Portland Community College and Marylhurst University.

He has worked with award winning high school band programs at Portland's Wilson High School and Beaverton's Arts and Communications Magnet Academy. He has long collaborated to form community music programs for youth in NE Portland, earning him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Arts Foundation. In 2005 he put together his current regional youth jazz orchestra, the American Music Program, which has won numerous national competitions, including the Next Generation Festival in Monterey and the Savannah Music Festival's Swing Central competition.

Thara John Memory is a consummate performer whose repertoire spans the breadth of classical, jazz, and rhythm and blues music. In addition to his 2013 Grammy Award for his work on Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy winning CD, he has been honored with numerous awards, including induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and recognition as the Jazz Society of Oregon's Musician of the Year, the Regional Arts and Culture Council's annual artist's fellowship

 

© 2017 KGW-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment