Chance encounter in Eugene leads to recording contract

EUGENE, Ore. - From Tim Hardin to Mat Kearney, Eugene has produced its share of recording artists.

An expert at the Martin Prosperity Institute ranks Eugene fifth in the nationa for the concentration of musicians.

That's the environment out of which Zac Wolfe is working to emerge.

The jazz musician was heavily influenced by Stix Hooper, a founding member of the 1970s group The Crusaders.

"I had been listening to his music since I was kid," Wolfe said.

Now the musician and his hero stand side by side to make music.

Hooper was visiting his nephew at the University of Oregon and stopped by a pizza place to get a bite to eat.

That's where he met Wolfe.

"In the middle of the second set, we saw Stix walk in," Wolfe recalled. "We were playing one of the songs that he actually produced in the 80s."

"I was just very, very impressed that there was a musician that was actually playing music, rather than having a little sample machine with a rhythm track," Hooper said.

Wolfe signed with Stix Hooper Enterprises, an independent record label.

His album will feature some original work with a jazz and latin twist.