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Portland Jazz Festival 2011



The 2011 Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival presented by US Bank will be held Friday, February 18 through Sunday, February 27 at venues throughout Portland. The week-long festival will include jazz education and outreach along with a series of concerts all supporting the 2011 theme, Bridges and Boundaries: Jewish & African Americans Playing Jazz Together.

Among this year’s headliners are the SFJAZZ Collective, in the world premiere of new repertoire paying homage to African American pop icon Stevie Wonder; NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston, performing solo piano in support of his new release, The Storyteller, and autobiography, African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston; celebrated clarinetist Don Byron and his new project dedicated to the great Jewish entertainer, Mickey Katz – a reunion of the groundbreaking and virtuosic klezmer ensemble that recorded Byron’s eponymous Nonesuch album and spearheaded the klezmer revival in the 1990s; a special performance by The 3 Cohens, featuring siblings, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen, and pianist Yuval Cohen; famed African American violinist Regina Carter will return to Portland, presenting her newest project, Reverse Thread, which traces the musical history of African cultures, including tribes of Ugandan Jews; saxophonist Joshua Redman – son of African American saxophonist Dewey Redman and Jewish American dancer Renee Shedroff – leading his new project, James Farm, that includes both African American and Jewish American musicians; and the Portland Jazz Festival’s new Artistic & Community Ambassador, bassist Esperanza Spalding (who will lead her new Chamber Music Society in an exclusive Portland area engagement).

Complete concert schedule:

* Friday, February 18, 7:30pm, Winningstad Theater, Randy Weston
* Saturday, February 19, 7:30pm, Winningstad Theater, Anat Fort
* Sunday, February 20, 7:30pm, Winningstad Theater, Dave Frishberg
* Thursday, February 24, 7:30pm, Newmark Theater, Don Byron
* Friday, February 25, 7:30pm, Newmark Theater, Esperanza Spalding
* Friday, February 25, 9:30pm, Crystal Ballroom, Poncho Sanchez
* Friday, February 25, 9:30pm, Alberta Rose Theatre, Nik Bartsch’s Ronin
* Saturday, February 26, 2:00pm, Crystal Ballroom, The 3 Cohens
* Saturday, February 26, 7:30pm, Newmark Theater, SFJAZZ Collective
* Saturday, February 26, 8:00pm, Tony Starlight’s, Gerald Clayton
* Saturday, February 26, 9:30pm, Crystal Ballroom, Regina Carter
* Sunday, February 27, 2:00pm, Newmark Theater, Joshua Redman
* Sunday, February 27, 7:30pm, Crystal Ballroom, Maceo Parker

The Story Behind the Theme

This year’s festival theme, Bridges and Boundaries: Jewish & African Americans Playing Jazz Together represents past, present and future collaboration between African Americans and Jewish Americans. “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).

Jazz Education and Outreach

Jazz education and outreach events include a week long performance at Portland Area Middle Schools of The Incredible Journey of Jazz, a Black History Month celebration staged each February. The 60-minute musical/theater piece was originally developed by Portland State University professor and pianist Darrell Grant and the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute. The performance features seven actors and musicians who each play multiple roles in depicting the experiences of African Americans through the history of jazz. Early scenes have students communicating through African rhythms, and then follow the evolution from gospel, blues, ragtime, Dixieland and New Orleans. Eventually, we witness the migration of African Americans traveling up the Mississippi River to Chicago and other industrial centers with the big band sounds of Ellington and Basie, to the bebop of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, contemporary experimentation of Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman, and ultimately to rap and hip hop.

African and Jewish American community leaders, national jazz journalists and festival performers will participate and interact in panel discussions, focusing on a wide range of artistic and social perspectives. Additionally, featured headliners and members of the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) will participate in the one-on-one interview series, Jazz Conversations. These interviews are presented before a live audience in the intimate PCPA ArtBar, among other locations to be announced. Notable participants will include author and journalist Nat Hentoff and DownBeat correspondent Paul De Barros.


PDX Jazz Members have the advantage of reserving the best seats during the exclusive pre-sale period from October 13 – October 22. New and renewing members can join at any time.

On Saturday, October 23, Portland Jazz Festival tickets will become available to the general public at all TicketMaster locations, by calling 503-228-JAZZ (5299), or online at pdxjazz.com

. Those who sign up for the PDX Jazz mailing list will receive the first notification when tickets go on sale to the public.

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.