In April 2002, Cooksie and Lionel Kramer and Leng Tshua had a “Brain Wave” over lunch. There were no Jazz Clubs on the Eastside and it was time somebody did something about it. Sherman Clay in Bellevue was the ideal location and had a beautiful venue – The Steinway Recital room in the piano store – and with a capacity of up to 90 people, they decided to go for it creating the Eastside Jazz Club.
That June they kicked off the series with a concert featuring Brain Kent on Saxophone, Hans Brehmer on Piano, Ev Stern on Bass and Lionel Kramer on Drums. Fourteen years on, this monthly event has presented great jazz evenings to an always enthusiastic audience. The Kramer’s have created a comfortable “in home” informal feel with time to meet the musicians and enjoy refreshments.
Originally from South Africa, Lionel and Cooksie moved to the Eastside some 18 years ago and quickly involved themselves with the Northwest Jazz community. Cooksie had been a teacher of piano, accordion and organ in Johannesburg where she established the largest music studio in the city. She won the South African Accordion Championships in 1959 and went on to represent South Africa in the “Coupe Mondiale” in New York. She has also performed at Carnegie Hall, and on radio at the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) in England, as well as performing in her own radio and television programs in South Africa and recording for EMI/Columbia.
Besides running the Eastside Jazz Club she’s presently on the Board of the Northwest Accordion Society and directs and arranges music for her 17 piece Accordion Orchestra, and is also an Advisor to the Bellevue Downtown Association for their Jazz Festivals.
Lionel’s drumming can be heard most days of the week in clubs, restaurants and concert halls around the region in both small jazz combos and Big Bands.