US remains jazz central

Jazz is global, but its most ambitious players still flock to the US to soak in its roots and prove they're part of the scene. Tonight a Parisian septet called Fractale wraps up an eight-gig tour of the States at the Drom in the East Village, after stops in New Orleans, Cleveland and Chicago. From December 3 to 6 Spanish pianist Chano Domínguez & his Flamenco Quintet bring its commissioned "The Flamenco Side of Kind of Blue" to the Jazz Standard to assert that the Barcelona Jazz Festival (in which they premiere the work on November 12) has … [Read more...]

Jajouka-beyond-jazz, public interviews and local acts at Portland fest

The Master Musicians of Jajouka, a troupe from Morocco's Rif Mountains, stretch anyone's definition of "jazz." They sure don't make the cut according to alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, who regaled the crowd attending his "Jazz Conversation" at the PDX Jazz Festival (Portland OR) with the opinion that he's the only real "jazz" artist on the sched during the fest's second weekend, dissing saxophonists Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Tom Scott, among others, as having "nothing to do with jazz" slighting Frank Morgan as a "phony" and Cannonball … [Read more...]

Portland jazz fest hails Blue Note, cancels Cassandra

The PDX Jazz Festival in Portland, Oregon last week began to garner good reviews for its programs, many of which celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Blue Note Records. Yet as the first major jazz festival of 2009, it may be the canary in the coalmine regarding effects of the economic downturn. Last fall Alaska Airlines rescued the fest from folding after its major funder, Seattle-based Qwest Communications, pulled out, having been one of the decade's 25-worst performing S&P 500 Index stocks. Now, according to PDX Jazz artistic … [Read more...]

Alaska Airlines to the rescue: Portland Jazz Fest revived

The Portland Jazz Festival, pronounced dead on September 8 due to the pullout of Seattle-based title sponsor Qwest Communications, now rises from its ashes on the wings of Alaska Airlines and an advisory board of local businesses and individuals. According to a press release issued today by PDX Jazz, the fest's umbrella organization, "the 6th Annual Alaska Airlines Portland Jazz Festival presented by The Oregonian A&E will take place, as scheduled, Februrary 13-22, 2009." The 10-day fest's theme will be the 70th anniversary of Blue Note … [Read more...]

Bad news from the Northwest: Portland Jazz Fest dies

The demise of the Portland Jazz Festival was announced today by press release from its membership umbrella organization PDX Jazz, cancelling plans for February 2009 due to the pullout by title sponsor Qwest Communications. Despite concerted attempts by festival producer Bill Royston, no other funder stepped up to support the five-year-old festival's modest budget with high returns, and the result may be due to the U.S.'s overall economic downturn.The festival -- two weeks every February starting in 2004 -- filled burgeoning Portland's boutique … [Read more...]