‘She’s One of the Current Greats’: Hardimans Bringing ‘Top-Notch Jazz,’ Carpenters Tribute to Area

This article originally appeared in the February 2020 edition of Canby Living Magazine.

“She has a beautiful voice, not only sings perfectly in tune but caresses the center of each note and swings up a storm. She deserves to be much better known beyond the Pacific Northwest… She’s one of the current greats.”

Those words from Scott Yanow, of the LA Jazz Times, describing the talent of local jazz vocalist Rebecca Hardiman.

And, hey, what can we say? The man knows his stuff. It’s not for no reason that Rebecca and her husband, Ray, who plays piano and keyboard, have become a mainstay at any local events in need of some live music, from First Thursday to the Cutsforth’s Cruise-In, which they headlined last year.

Their new show, a tribute to The Carpenters, has been especially popular, including a sell-out show in December at the Canby Pioneer Chapel. This is all in addition to their weekly gig every Friday at the Langdon Farms Golf Club, “Jazz at the Grill,” which they’ve been doing for the past seven years.

“It’s kind of neat,” says Rebecca Hardiman. “We’re bringing jazz to this area, because a lot of folks who live around here don’t feel like driving into downtown Portland to hear top-notch jazz. So, bringing jazz here has been a real treat and a real success.”

The Hardimans, both lifelong musicians, met in 1987, when Rebecca was a new graduate of Seattle’s Edmonds Community College, which is known for its premiere vocal programs and choirs and has a long association with jazz music in particular.

Rebecca auditioned to sing for a Boston-based jazz ensemble called The Ritz, at about the same time as Ray, a native of Rhode Island. The Ritz was a hit, and Ray and Rebecca hit it off as well, and the band toured extensively over the next decade.

The Hardimans even had the distinction of being some of the first musical artists to ever record a direct-to-digital track for a compact disc. CDs were niche in those days, and many from the old school felt like they would never replace the warm, tonal sound of vinyl records.

“We were able to record using what was the state-of-the-art equipment at that time,” Ray Hardiman says. “It was about as big as a phone booth, to record what you could now do on your phone.”

The Hardimans settled in the Portland area in 1990 and continued to tour with a new band called Euphoria. In 2010, Ray started performing solo in and around Silverton, and the couple began their association with Langdon Farms several years later.

There, they typically perform as the Rebecca Hardiman Trio, with accompaniment by Mike Winkle, Craig Snazelle, Whitney Moulton and/or the legendary drummer Ron Steen, one of the Northwest’s top rhythm keepers and a leader of the Portland jazz scene.

To find out more about the Hardimans, their music and their schedule of upcoming shows, visit rebeccahardiman.com. Or hear them on “Episode 126: Jazzing Things Up”:

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