PDX Jazz Blog

February 9, 2016
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Jazz in the Schools Art at The Cleaners Opens Tomorrow!

Hello! Being roughly a week away from opening night of the Biamp PDX Jazz Festival, things have been really exciting here at PDX Jazz. While the Festival has been keeping us busy, we’ve had other endeavors going on as well. Our Jazz in the Schools program, sponsored by US Bank, has really started taking off with several area schools and hundreds of students getting in on the fun. For those of you unfamiliar, Jazz in the Schools is an education and outreach program conducted in participating Portland public schools that teaches students about the origins of jazz, its contributions to American history and its connection to visual art through countless historic jazz album cover designs. This program not only introduces students to jazz music, but allows kids to exhibit their own artistic interpretation of what jazz “looks like” by creating their own art inspired by the music they hear. The […]
January 13, 2016

Looking Forward…

Hello! Hope you’re having a great new year so far – I know we are. And while 2015 is over, the spirit of John Coltrane is far from gone. In fact, the spirit and music of John Coltrane will be carried over into the 2016 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival in late February – in other words, right around the corner from now! Many of our headliners will paying tribute to Trane with their performances, and a handful of these performances are For Portland Only. One such performance that we are particularly keen on will be on Saturday February 20 when The Gary Bartz Quartet presents “Coltrane Rules”, live and in person. In 2012, saxophonist Bartz released “Coltrane Rules: The Tao of a Music Warrior”, a tribute to the jazz legend that garnered rave reviews by both fans and critics. The disc presents familiar Coltrane themes and tunes but with Bartz’s […]
January 4, 2016

Da Vinci – Jazz in the Schools by volunteer Kim Harrison

Walking into da Vinci Arts Middle School for my first morning of volunteering for Jazz in the Schools, was very intimidating. I was excited to be involved in such an important and influential program and I am a teacher so why was I so nervous? I suppose it was because I am just learning about jazz myself. I am a music lover and have had the privilege to experience many live jazz performances but I don’t have a working knowledge of all of the historically significant artists and events that helped shape our culture. How could I teach these students about this important topic? That’s where Joe stepped in. Joe Maita, PDX Jazz Board President and Jazz Educator Extraordinaire, led the hour long program. His multi-media presentation had the students tapping along to music and live recordings, answering questions about the Twentieth Century and more importantly, asking questions about Jazz […]
December 31, 2015

Happy New Year’s from PDX Jazz!

Hello everyone! On behalf of everyone at PDX Jazz we just wanted to wish you all a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. We are excited about what 2016 has in store for us as people and for our organization, in particular the 13th edition of the PDX Jazz Festival which you can purchase tickets for and read all about here. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful interpretation of “Auld Lang Syne” by The Bobby Timmons Trio and have a great holiday!
December 29, 2015
PDX Jazz volunteer David Lifton at a "Jazz in the Schools" presentation.

Remembering David Lifton

It is with a very heavy heart that I write of the sudden passing of one of our most cherished volunteers, David Lifton. I didn’t know David nearly well enough, and only long enough to know he was enjoying his new-found retirement after a long career as a teacher in Portland Public Schools, and that for 30 years he hosted “Jazz in the Afternoon” on alternate Wednesdays on KBOO and also serving for a time as program director. David came to us recently when he heard about our “Jazz in the Schools” program, volunteering to help me teach children our jazz history program.  He eagerly participated in the classrooms of Astor Middle School and Rosa Parks Elementary, demonstrating great intelligence about the subject matter and kindness with the children. Just two weeks ago we visited Astor and talked with the students about their work, and looked forward to teaching together […]
December 24, 2015

Kenny Burrell’s Soulful & Jazzy Christmas

Christmas is almost here, and I don’t know about you but I am ready to celebrate! No matter what holidays you celebrate, everyone here at PDX Jazz says happy holidays to you all and we sincerely hope that you will be surrounded by your loved ones, gifts, good food and cheer. And if you’re still not quite in the holiday spirit just yet, I’d like to recommend this fantastic video of jazzified Christmas tunes by jazz guitar legend Kenny Burrell, who we will also be paying tribute to at the “Freight Trane: The John Coltrane & Kenny Burrell Collaboration” show during the upcoming 2016 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival. To find out more about this performance and to buy tickets, click here. In the meantime, listen to the soulful little video with your family and enjoy the holiday!
December 10, 2015

A note from the Board President on “The Spirit of Coltrane”

Last night was a very enriching, important evening for PDX Jazz and for those in the audience of over 200 at the Alberta Abbey.  The music performance – “The Spirit of Coltrane – From Birmingham to PDX” was a spectacular, emotional appreciation of John Coltrane by four of Portland’s finest musicians – Darrell Grant, Devin Phillips, Alan Jones and Jonathan Lakey.  It was a powerful and brilliant ensemble…Portland is so lucky to have such amazing musicians in our midst who are willing and able to take on such challenging (and risky) artistic repertoire, and to succeed at a high level.  Thanks to the members of the quartet for their devotion to making the evening so memorable and rewarding. I was also extremely proud of our organization for our role in presenting a panel discussion prior to the music.  Titled  “Birmingham to PDX,” the panel was moderated by former Oregonian critic […]
December 9, 2015

TONIGHT! The Spirit of Coltrane at The Alberta Abbey

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Just wanted to take a minute to remind you that tonight PDX Jazz its having its final concert of the Fall 2015 season, “The Spirit of Coltrane” and tickets are still available! Tonight’s show at the Alberta Abbey is a tribute performance to the late great John Coltrane featuring Devin Phillips on saxophone, Darrell Grant on piano, Jonathan Lakey on bass and Alan Jones on drums. Together this quartet of PDX all-stars will take on some of Coltrane’s most beloved compositions including “Alabama”, “Dear Lord”, “Amen”, “Spiritual” and the “A Love Supreme” suite in its entirety. Another song that will be performed tonight is a Coltrane tune that doesn’t get nearly enough lip service is “Welcome” from Trane’s Kulu Se Mama album. As Trane was still making his transition into free jazz territory, “Welcome” serves as proof that he wasn’t leaving his more melodic roots in […]
December 7, 2015

Interview with jazz author Ashley Kahn on “A Love Supreme”

Much has been written about John Coltrane’s classic LP A Love Supreme in the five decades since its first release on Impulse! Records in early 1965, but perhaps the most insightful of these pieces of literature might be A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album by Grammy-winning music historian and journalist Ashley Kahn. Published in 2002, this book along with his similarly-minded tome on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, won him critical acclaim from both the jazz and literary worlds. Perhaps one of the most revealing quotes from Kahn’s book on Coltrane’s most revered album goes “A Love Supreme forces me to talk about my own spirituality. There is no way to avoid it. If you are going to be an open and honest listener, and allow this music to enter you — which was Coltrane’s intent — you have to be willing to speak about yourself.” […]
December 4, 2015

An Interview with McCoy Tyner on “A Love Supreme”

Hello! Hope you all are ready for a fun weekend…I know I am. In less than a week, we here at PDX Jazz will present our Fall 2015 finale, “The Spirit of John Coltrane“, a tribute performance featuring Devin Phillips (saxophone), Darrell Grant (piano), Jonathan Lakey (bass) and Alan Jones (drums) performing some of Coltrane’s most revered masterpieces including Alabama, Dear Lord, Welcome, Dearly Beloved, Reverend King, Spiritual and the A Love Supreme suite. The latter piece especially I am definitely looking forward to hearing rendered live in concert in the former Baptist Church Sanctuary of the Alberta Abbey in Portland’s historic jazz neighborhood. The acoustics in the room are just amazing for such an old building and I’m looking forward to hearing these tunes brought to life this coming Wednesday, December 9. Speaking of December 9, that is also the date that Coltrane, drummer Elvin Jones, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and pianist McCoy […]