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September 30, 2010

New Grounds

First Twitter, now Facebook.

Please feel free to join the new Facebook page. I'll try and do something more with it, rather than just linking to blog posts.

Thanks for reading!

The Marzette Watts Ensemble

This is quite a notable recording. One that has received praise from both Destination: Out, as well as in Thurston Moore's top ten (14) Free Jazz Underground Recordings. But to be honest, why isn't Marzette Watts more popular. This is a man who had creativity flowing all over his body. A man who wrote film scores, created his own films, painted in the vein of the Abstract Expressionists, and created truly unique music.

The Marzette Watts Ensemble is a meditative, artistic vision. Not a wall of sounds assaulting the listener, but a metaphysical journey. Free, in the moment, and inspiring visuals of shapes and colors. The Ornette Coleman standard, Lonely Woman, hits the spot. Mostly because of the vocals provided by Patty Waters adds even more of a haunted quality to the song. And after the first verse, Marty Cook and Marzette Watts duo like it's the last piece of music they'll ever create. Maybe, that's what making music was like back then.
1969 - Savoy.

Marzette Watts - tenor sax; Marty Cook - trombone; Tom Berge & J. C. Moses - drums; Juny Booth, Steve Tintweiss, Cevera Jehers - basses; Frank Kipers - violin; Robert Fews - piano; George Turner - cornet; Patty Waters, Amy Schaeffer - voices

September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Coltrane

Today marks the 84th anniversary of John Coltrane's birth. Please feel free to indulge in his recordings for the day, which I can help but do almost everyday.

Tune into Portland's listener supported KMHD Jazz Radio to hear highlights of his recordings throughout the day.

Photo Credit: Lee Friedlander, 1960

When It Rains It Pours

Portland has been quite the melting pot for great live jazz this month. Local icon Devin Phillips performed John Coltrane's A Love Supreme last Saturday night. Chick Corea alongside legends Roy Haynes, Christian McBride, and Kenney Garrett played last weekend at the Schnitz. Trombone virtuoso Curtis Fuller played just this week at Jimmy Maks. Did I get to see any of it? NOPE. Having two jobs starts to wain on personal endeavors, but that's ok because PDX Jazz just announced the theme and acts for the 2011 Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival presented by U.S. Bank. You heard that right.

More posts to follow about events, what I'm interested in, and must sees of the festival. It's that time when Portland jazz nerds can get all gitty again!

Press release below:


Past, present and future collaboration between African Americans and Jewish Americans is the message behind Bridges and Boundaries:Jewish & African Americans Playing Jazz Together, the theme of the 2011 Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival presented by US Bank. The festival, which annually selects a compelling musical and programming theme, will be held Friday, February 18 through Sunday, February 27 at venues throughout Portland. The complete festival lineup will be announced on October 13 when single show and special package tickets go on sale exclusively to PDX Jazz members. Tickets will become available to the general public on October 23.

A select few of this year's culturally diverse headliners include Avishai Cohen, the Israeli trumpeter, one of the leading players in the new all-star performing the work of African American pop icon Stevie Wonder. Cohen will also be joined by his siblings Anat Cohen and Yuval Cohen for a special performance of SFJAZZ Collective,The 3 Cohens. Famed African American violinist Regina Carter will return to Portland, presenting her newest project, Reverse Threads, which traces the musical history of African cultures, including tribes of Ugandan Jews. And, Joshua Redman, son of African American saxophonist Dewey Redman and Jewish American dancer Renee Shedroff, leading his new James Farm Quartet that includes both African American and Jewish American musicians.

African and Jewish American community leaders, Portland Jazz Festival's new Artistic & Community Ambassador Esperanza Spalding (who will lead her new Chamber Music Society in an exclusive Portland area engagement), and many other artists will participate and interact in panel discussions and "Jazz Conversations" focusing on artistic and social perspectives. National jazz journalists, writers, and critics-including Nat Hentoff-will also participate in these events.

"The original idea for this festival came from Nat Henoff's writings about jazz as a meeting place for African and Jewish Americans." said Bill Royston, Artistic Director of the Portland Jazz Festival. "His writings of Steven Bernstein's 'Diaspora Blues' to the odyssey of Willie 'The Lion' Smith were of primary influence. Historically, the music drew people together, and today there is a new wave of Israeli musicians who have moved to New York and elsewhere across the United States."

For more than 100 years, jazz has been the timekeeper of change in America's moods, lifestyles and overall social awareness. Jazz has historically broken down racial color lines and cultural differences. Its stage has been a magnet for African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Western Europeans; all playing together in jam sessions long before the Civil Rights movement existed. Truly, jazz is America's classical music, and its only indigenous art form.

In his acclaimed history of Portland jazz, Jumptown, Robert Dietsche documents how communities were divided and destroyed by urban development. As I-5 segmented the Black community and signaled the death of the N Williams cultural scene, I-405 shattered the Jewish neighborhoods. In many cities, the Black community evolved from what had originally been a Jewish neighborhood. These physical boundaries, however, only enhanced cultural divisions and misunderstandings, which remain prevalent today.

Movements in contemporary jazz are again leading the way in creating bridges between African Americans and Jewish Americans. This merger of new directions in Jewish music with African American jazz improvisation has brought together the theme of the 2011 Portland Jazz Festival (February 18-27).

What is PDX Jazz?
PDX Jazz is Portland's jazz organization, producing the annual Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival presented by U.S. Bank. PDX Jazz offers an array of distinguished programs throughout the year in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings boasting internationally recognized artists while supporting regional fan favorites from the Northwest, often times presented in newly configured formats. PDX Jazz in partnership with Oregon Music News recently initiated a monthly jazz series at PDX Jazz @ Tony Starlight's, an intimate music venue, located in northeast Portland.

For a complete schedule of events, please visit:


September 15, 2010

Portlanders: Add this to your Calendar

PDX Jazz, the presenting organization of the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival presented by U.S. Bank, has set up a new monthly series which will be kicked off this Saturday, September 18, with a special performance by Devin Phillips. Happening at Tony Starlight's Supper Club & Lounge, the audience will be treated with a full performance of John Coltrane's, A Love Supreme suite. Start time is 8pm, cover is $15.

I've seen Phillips a few times, he is a terrific player, and to see him pay tribute to one of the godfather's of jazz will be an extraordinary performance for sure (it'll be in honor of Coltrane's birthday -- 9/23, and the birth of Phillip's newborn son).
"While we were at the hospital during the birthing process, I had A Love Supreme played repeatedly," states Phillips. "John's music has and will always have a special place within my own music and family."

I will be doing my best to make it there, but wanted make sure other Portlanders were aware of this show. If you do make it out, be sure to tweet about it with the #jazzlives tag so others in the world know that jazz is thriving in Portland.
Photo Credit: Andrew Lepley

September 9, 2010

Tomorrow Night In The Big Apple

Destination: Out, one of the leading blogs for jazz out in cyber space, recently announced their new monthly live jazz series, Loft/Lab. Hosted by The SALT Space, on 27th Street and Broadway; this new multimedia art space may be reminiscent of the 70s loft scene in NY. The admission costs are designed to be low, offering extreme accessibility for seekers of live, avant-garde jazz. First up on the bill will be soprano saxophone player Joe Giardullo, with drummer Harvey Sorgen. Details below:
Our Loft/Lab jazz series aims to recreate the feel and excitement of the great jazz lofts of the 1970s. It’ll be a lab where adventurous musicians can try out new ideas, configurations, and compositions. It’ll serve up live music without a net. We’re keeping the prices low and only featuring our favorite acts. It’ll be curated with the same hand-picked care as the site.

Destination OUT’s Loft/Lab jazz series presents:
Joe Giardullo and Harvey Sorgen
Friday, September 10th at 8 pm.
1158 Broadway, 5th Floor
Entrance is on 27th Street
$7.00 admission.

The SALT Space is a brand new arts space on 28th Street and Broadway, in the former Tin Pan Alley district. It’s a beautiful loft on the top floor of the building that’s built for performances. Think the Jazz Gallery, but larger and with a bit more polish. SALT Space has already hosted events by DJ Spooky and Miho Hatori, and we’re honored to join their roster.