Gary Spencer

August 1, 2017

Listening to the History of Jazz: Unsung Tenors

By KMHD Radio’s Mark Montesano The history of jazz is full of great musicians that inspired and led the way for future generations. Their names are well known even to people who don’t know much about jazz: Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane are household names. For every one of these popular figures there many more wonderful players who, for one reason or another, never gained much popularity or name recognition during or even after their lifetime. Nonetheless, their recordings reveal a unique voice, intense creativity, and they deserve a place in the history of this music. This piece is the first in a series of blogs about musicians who are relatively ‘unsung’ and that I believe deserve greater recognition and praise. This particular piece is about the unsung tenor jazz saxophonists.    Don Byas (1912-1972): Byas was so highly thought of that he took Lester Young’s place […]
July 17, 2017

Working together in the name of Jazz

By PDX Jazz Board Member Deborah DeMoss Smith I’m proud that PDX Jazz supported (and received recognition on stage more than once) the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival in North Portland this past weekend. With the large audience peppering the grass and the bright, summer-warm weather, the 37th annual event was one of the most successful to date. There’s nothing like supporting other jazz organizations. The music deserves that.
July 5, 2017

Listening to the History of Jazz: Miles Davis, Pre-Electric (1958-67)

By KMHD Radio’s Mark Montesano Last month’s column ended with Miles Davis’ “first great quintet” (John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and “Philly Joe” Jones). The next step was to add Cannonball Adderley for some powerful sextet sides like this one here…“Milestones” (1958): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k94zDsJ-JMU Bill Evans soon collaborated with this group to produce one of the most popular jazz albums of all-time: Kind of Blue. Here’s a link to that entire landmark recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbxtYqA6ypM Aside from his cutting-edge small group sessions, Miles made a number of orchestral albums with Gil Evans who wrote the arrangements for his haunting horn solos. Here’s “Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio),” one of the more famous recordings from the album Sketches of Spain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSGUPsAeL34 Though most of Davis’ most influential albums were made in the studio, to understand the depth and power of his music one had to see him in person. Here are two great live recordings from […]
June 13, 2017

Interview with Donny McCaslin

Vortex Magazine recently published an interview with Donny McCaslin in advance of his performance this Friday at The Mission Theater. It’s an insightful read wherein McCaslin discusses working with David Bowie, his newest album Beyond Now, and much more. You can check it out at the link below. Tickets are selling fast for his show Friday night, so if you still need to buy them you can do so by clicking here. Enjoy, and we hope to see you this weekend! http://www.vrtxmag.com/articles/the-sorcerers-apprentice-donny-mccaslin-on-beyond-now-blackstar-and-bowie/
June 2, 2017

Listening to the History of Jazz: Miles Davis, Pre-Electric (1947-57)

By KMHD Radio’s Mark Montesano Miles Davis was one of the most compelling figures in 20th century music. The range of his influence is amazingly broad: his trumpet style, his compositions, his gift for spotting and nurturing young talent, his personal style. His musical career was a story of restless change and innovation. As an eager young man barely out of his teens, beginning to play with Charlie Parker; to the birth of cool jazz; to the development of hard bop; to his flirtation with free jazz; to incorporating rock, funk, and hip hop. Miles was on the cutting edge of music during his entire 45 year career. I will use this two-part blog to explore that first 20 years phase of Miles’ creative output ‘before’ he ‘went electric’. Here are the first 10 years… In the mid-40’s, Miles convinced his father to send him to Julliard School of Music in […]
May 3, 2017

Listening to the History of Jazz: “Bird’s Ax: The Alto Sax”

By KMHD Radio’s Mark Montesano Though the tenor is the more popular sax in jazz, some of the greatest innovators in jazz have played the alto sax. Probably the most influential was Charlie “Bird” Parker. Everyone who played jazz on any instrument has had to come to terms with the way Parker played. As you listen to the evolution of alto styles from the 30’s through the 60’s, notice the changes in tone, rhythm and feeling that the alto has gone through up until Parker and then after. Jimmy Dorsey: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Dorsey: Known mainly as a famous bandleader, Dorsey was also an early influence on the alto sax. Watch and hear his virtuosity on this difficult piece. http://tinyurl.com/kdgd2zd     Johnny Hodges: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Hodges: Hodges was one of the first great alto soloists. He first became famous for his work with Duke Ellington, but also had a long and successful solo career. His lovely tone, deep […]
May 1, 2017

Gerald Clayton Interview with Oregon Arts Watch

We’re just two days away from the return of Grammy® Award-nominated pianist and composer Gerald Clayton to The Old Church in Portland, and Oregon Arts Watch just published an interview he recently had with OAW’s Angela Allen in anticipation of Wednesday’s concert. Click on the link below to read this very insightful, personal conversation. Tickets are still available for his show and can be purchased here. http://www.orartswatch.org/gerald-clayton-preview-family-man/  
April 27, 2017

Jazz in the Schools Exhibition 4/28-4/30, New Education Director Hired

By PDX Jazz Board President Joe Maita I am pleased to announce the hiring of Kim Harrison as PDX Jazz Education Director!  As a volunteer, Kim has played an indispensable role in growing our education programs, and has had a particular impact on our Jazz in the Schools program, which we presented to 10 schools and 1,500 children during the 2016 – 17 school year. During her career – which includes over ten years in the classroom – Kim has designed and facilitated family enrichment events and education programs, written project curriculum, and has a special ability to handle diverse groups of children, families and fellow educators while creating welcoming and meaningful environments.   Kim is also an avid jazz fan, and has volunteered for several years as an Artist Host during our Jazz Festival. Kim and others from PDX Jazz will be at the Portland Art Museum April 28 – […]
April 7, 2017

Listening to the History Of Jazz: “It’s Not Just About Notes Anymore!”

By KMHD Jazz Radio host Mark Montesano “It’s not just about notes anymore!” – A quote from Albert Ayler on the New Jazz circa 1965. Like all great art, jazz has always reflected the times: The carefree chaos of roaring 20’s; the escapist romanticism of the depression; the giddy self-confidence of post-war America; were all expressed in the music of these times. African-Americans, coming home from World War II saw the freedom and dignity that they helped secure for Europeans often denied them at home. In response, many began to re-examine traditional values that perpetuated prejudice and hatred. This spirit of rebellion eventually found voice throughout and across all of America. In jazz, also, the standard ideas about rhythm, harmony and melody, which had been developed by bebop innovators as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, were challenged by a small group of adventurous and restless young musicians. In this […]
April 5, 2017

Vortex Magazine Interview with Dave Holland

Vortex Magazine online recently posted an in-depth and insightful interview with 2017 NEA Jazz Master and iconic bass player Dave Holland on their site and it’s a fantastic read in preparation for his concert this Friday at Revolution Hall. Tickets are selling fast but great seats are still available! Click here for tickets, and click below to read the article. Enjoy! http://www.vrtxmag.com/articles/all-for-one-one-for-all-dave-holland-in-conversation/