Port Townsend jazz singer to release CD; will mark occasion with free concert Tuesday
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Jazz songstress Robin Bessier will celebrate her debut CD, “Other Side of Forever,” with a concert at The Cellar Door in Port Townsend on Tuesday.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — One spring night in 2012, singer Robin Bessier joined jazz pianist Barney McClure on stage — just for a song, no big thing.

McClure, also a composer, played his tune “Other Side of Forever,” a piece of music that would resonate long after this night.

“I just swooned,” Bessier recalled, adding that her performance with McClure went so well that she couldn’t help but ask him a question.

“All of a sudden, I heard myself saying: ‘Would you consider producing a CD for me?’

“He said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Bessier and McClure did embark on a recording project, with hopes of playing again at The Upstage, the Port Townsend venue where they met.

Bessier, who had left her job as executive director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association to pursue her music full time, became music director at Port Townsend’s Unity Church, performed with jazz musicians around the region and began raising money for a CD project.

Bessier and McClure went into the studio to record in early 2013. Then, toward the end of their sessions, Bessier contracted pneumonia.

“If you can’t breathe, you can’t sing . . . I was really sick for three, four months,” she said.

“It was an adventure of being on the couch, feeling frustrated.”

Then last summer, two things happened: The Upstage closed down in June and Bessier’s debut album, titled “Other Side of Forever,” was finished.

She’ll have her long-awaited CD-release concert at the Cellar Door, 940 Water St., this Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

There’s no cover charge, but Bessier and her band will accept donations.

There have been other travails with this record, though.

The night after it arrived on the singer’s doorstep, she went out to see friends and stepped off a curb that turned out to be much deeper than she’d thought.

She fell, broke her leg in two places and tore an ankle ligament.

While Bessier was laid up, one of her band members had to undergo treatment for cancer.

Everyone is in good health again, Bessier reports, and this Cellar Door gig ought to be a sweet one.

With the BBC Trio — pianist Dave Bristow, drummer Kurt Bischoff and bassist Neil Conaty — the singer will fill the place with jazz standards, freshly arranged, plus originals from the new album: Bobby McFerrin’s “Jubilee,” Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss,” Herbie Hancock’s “Harvest Time,” as well as Bessier’s own “Right Here, Right Now” and “Whisper.”

McClure, producer of the 11-track album, contributed his “Too Nice” along with the title song.

“More than anything else, it’s going to be really fun,” Bessier said.

“The BBC trio are smoking hot. When they get together, the music is more than the sum of the parts.

“There’s the reverence for the musical form itself — and they take that foundation and run with it.”

CDs will be available for $15 at Tuesday night’s show and at www.CDbaby.com, while more about the singer can be found at www.RobinBessier.com.

McClure, for his part, said he was impressed by Bessier’s passion for jazz — and by her maturity.

“Would that more singers would pace themselves in life,” he said, “and not put out [records] before they’re really ready.”

“It was a real pleasure to work with her,” added McClure, who won’t be able to attend Tuesday night.

He moved from Port Townsend to Desert Hot Springs, Calif., last year and has a busy performing schedule.

Bessier, meantime, is adding gigs to her spring calendar, such as March 29 at Wind Rose Cellars in Sequim and May 24 with the Latin-swing band Porto Alegre at the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts in Port Angeles.

Through it all, the song “Other Side of Forever” is still a favorite. It’s about appreciating life’s fleeting moments of beauty, Bessier said.

Even if it didn’t have lyrics, “the music itself would still speak to me.”


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 16. 2014 7:37PM
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