Bits 'n' Pieces: Local resident opens jazz joint in Rose City

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The new Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant in Portland is the long-sought dream by Vancouver resident Jim Templeton.

Templeton moved to the area just six years ago. He calls the metro area “a thriving bubbling jazz stew which includes musicians and followers.”

He began playing the piano at 6, growing up in Spokane.

“I love to play, I love to make pretty sounds,” said 69-year-old Templeton, who would go on to a range of gigs, from fraternity parties to playing with symphonies. The idea of a jazz restaurant stemmed from the down side of being a pianist, the hassle of lugging the keyboard and amps to different shows. “It would be so great to go to a place to play piano, create the cozy atmosphere I want,” Templeton said. “We really lucked out on location. You can sort of imagine the scene outside as the streets of Paris.”

Ivories is a team effort between Templeton and Art Trafton, the chef behind the lounge’s restaurant menu. He his previous experience includes The Governor House in Olympia and the Cherry Hill Inn in New Jersey. “I’ve found the perfect partner. It’s always been my desire to have the venue to be equally respected for its food, as for its music,” Templeton explains on his website.

Why open a jazz club now? “If I came to the end of my life, and I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be too happy with myself,” Templeton said. He hopes that Ivories will become a gathering place for musicians and fans alike, where they can share good food and creative music. He recommends catching internationally renown bassist Chuck Israel and his Jazz Orchestra on 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Dec. 22.

Performances by local musicians and special guests are from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, and 4:30 to midnight Wednesdays through Saturdays at Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant, 1435 N.W. Flanders, Portland. Call 503-241-6514 or visit ivoriesjazz.com.

—Ashley Swanson

Author’s latest mixes horror, humanity

Local author Matt Mikalatos, 37, sees the monster in all of us. The Salmon Creek resident’s second book, “Night of the Living Dead Christian,” about a Vancouver man named Luther who turns into a werewolf, was recently published by Tyndale House Publishers.

Luther’s “problem” creates family tension, his wife leaves him and he’s got to find a solution.

Mikalatos, regional director of Campus Crusade for Christ, got his inspiration for the book by looking at himself and his neighbors and realizing they were all looking for the same thing — how to become better people. He said neighborhoods are a perfect place to start because human frailties crash into each other when people live in close proximity.

“The search to set aside those monstrous tendencies in ourselves set me off on the monster-as-comedy routine,” he said, “which was a lot of fun.”

To add realism he sets his stories in places he loves. “In this book several scenes take place in the spectacular local ice cream joint, Ice Cream Renaissance,” he said. His previous book, “Imaginary Jesus,” includes scenes in several Portland locations, Muchas Gracias, a Vancouver Burgerville and the Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.

The 288-page book costs between $10-$15 and can be purchased at Cover to Cover Books, 6300 N.E. St. James Road, Powell’s Books, or online in paperback or e-edition at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites. Find out more at his blog http://www.mikalatos.com.

— Ruth Zschomler

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Ruth Zschomler, 360-735-4530, or email ruth.zschomler@columbian.com.