The Rifftides staff will soon be crossing the Cascade Mountains and heading west through the Columbia River Gorge to report on the Portland Jazz Festival. To be accurate, the reports will cover some of the festival. It runs eleven days in large and small halls, intimate clubs, a university lecture room, clubs, restaurants and at least one hotel lounge. As with most large jazz festivals these days, events often overlap, making it impossible to hear everything. We will take in as much music as we can and make our reports as timely as the crunch allows.
One of the sidebar features at the PDX festival is a series of public conversations with featured artists. Impresario Don Lucoff has asked me to chat with tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson (pictured right). That will be on Friday, February 17 at 4:30 p.m. at the Art Bar in the lobby of the Portland Art Center, which houses the Newmark and Winningstad Theatres, the festival’s primary stages for major events. Jackson shares a bill the next night at the Newmark with brothers Jimmy and Tootie Heath. Among other musicians the festival will feature are the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling together, drummer Ralph Peterson featuring the Curtis Brothers, the Yellowjackets and guitarist Mike Stern, and a parade of prominent pianists including Bill Mays, Craig Taborn, Aaron Parks, Amina Claudine Myers and the Russian Andrei Kitayev—in separate gigs.
In addition, there will be appearances by many of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent musicians. The veteran drummer Mel Brown (pictured left) will lead his big band with trumpeter Jon Faddis as a guest soloist. Pianist Ezra Weiss will head his Monday Night Big Band. Trumpeter Dick Titterington (pictured right) and pianist Randy Porter will appear with their John Birks Society. Not to be outdone, trumpeter Thomas Barber will present his quintet in a concert billed as “Barber Does Dizzy.” To scroll through the PDX Festival’s full calendar of events, go here.
If you are going to be there, I hope to see you in Portland. I always look forward to visiting one of my favorite former hometowns, especially under these circumstances.