PDX Jazz Blog

June 20, 2019
King Louie and LaRhonda Steele

Q&A: King Louie

King Louie took time out of his busy schedule to participate in a Q&A interview with show producer Don Lucoff ahead of his highly anticipated Washington Park summer concert on Thursday, August 1. King Louie talks about his new album, longtime musical relationship with LaRhonda Steele and recent health scare. Q: Louis, You are arguably the most in-demand organist in Portland, performing in numerous settings. Is this your first time playing in Washington Park? Its expansive outdoor location in the southwest hills overlooking downtown is certainly a jewel. A: I’ve actually played in Washington Park several times over the years in various bands I’ve played in, including with Paul deLay, Mel Brown, Sweet Baby James and Soul Vaccination, as I recall. It certainly IS a […]
February 16, 2019
Ralph Peterson

Q&A: Ralph Peterson Jr.

Ralph Peterson Jr. speaks with Artistic Director Don Lucoff on the legacy of Art Blakey as part of this year’s Double Legacy celebration. Q: Art was an imposing figure on the bandstand, larger than life with a sound all his own. Can you speak to that distinctive sound and where it came from? A: Art Blakey sound was rooted in his early playing of Big Bands of Fletcher Henderson. Once in Perrugia we were all sitting around having lunch and some Fletcher Henderson Big Band music came on. Art got really animated and energetically sang all the cus and hits for as long as this music was on.  The essence of Art Blakey approach was Big Band Drummer in a small group setting. Art was […]
February 2, 2019
Farnell Newton photo by Sharon Thomas

Q&A: Farnell Newton

Trumpeter Farnell Newton speaks with Artistic Director Don Lucoff on the legacy of Dr. Donald Byrd as part of this year’s Blue Note @ 80 celebration. Q: Donald Byrd has been a major influence on so many musicians of different generations. When do you first recall hearing him? A: I first heard Donald Byrd on Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 in 1993 right after I started learning jazz in Philadelphia at the University of Arts Summer Program with trumpeter Rick Kerber. Jazzmatazz was one of the first albums to combine a live jazz band with hip hop production and rapping. Q: Have you had the chance to interact with him? A: Yes, I’ve hung out with Donald Byrd a couple of times in the past while […]
January 22, 2019
Nick Fish

Q&A: Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish

An interview with PDX Jazz Artistic Director Don Lucoff. Q: When did jazz first get on your radar? A: I started listening to jazz in college. My roommates introduced me to Ronnie Laws, Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon, and Dave Brubeck. I later branched out to Miles Davis, Monk, and Coltrane. On a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, I heard Oscar Peterson for the first time. And I spent many evenings in New York City listening to jazz at the Village Vanguard, Algonquin, and Café Carlyle. Years later, like many others, I continued my jazz education through NPR listening to Nancy Wilson’s “Jazz Profiles” and Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” program. Q: You are thoughtfully referred to as the Jazz Commissioner. What is Portland Parks & Recreation’s role […]
December 27, 2018
Gerald Veasley and Grover Washington Jr

Q&A: Gerald Veasley

Artistic Director Don Lucoff conducted this interview with Gerald Veasley recognizing the music of Grover Washington Jr. Q: When Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell eulogized Grover at his funeral, he referred to him as Philadelphia’s global ambassador. You and I were present on North Broad St. near Temple University just prior to Christmas, 1999 along with many of the 76ers and Philadelphia musical royalty. Can you expound on the mayor’s feelings about Grover? Grover had a deep affinity for Philadelphia, its cultural scene, its sports teams and of course its place in the jazz world. It was a place that nurtured his musicianship and launched his professional career. No matter where he traveled he was proud of spreading the word about Philadelphia. Q: Set the band […]
December 27, 2018
Darrell Grant

Q&A: Darrell Grant

Artistic Director Don Lucoff conducted this interview with Darrell Grant. Q: Taking a moment to reflect on your colleagues who previously were honored as Portland Jazz Masters — Mel Brown, Thara Memory, Dave Frishberg, Nancy King, Charley Gray, Wayne Thompson, the band Oregon and Art Abrams — what is most apparent? I would say that these musicians embody the essence of Portland as a jazz town. Individually and collectively they are emblematic of the artistry, individuality, and generosity that make our musical community so special. I’m sure I am not alone in being inspired by their musical gifts – the erudite songwriting and sparkling piano-playing of Dave Frishberg, Nancy King’s stratospheric flights of improvisation, and Oregon’s pioneering blend of musical cultures. Each of them have […]
December 27, 2018
Gil Goldstein

Q&A: Gil Goldstein

Artistic Director Don Lucoff conducted this interview with Gil Goldstein recognizing the music of Michael Brecker. Q: Take us back to the time when you transitioned from Berklee to NYC and soon after found yourself working with Gil Evans in his Monday Night Orchestra at Sweet Basil and then meeting Randy and Michael Brecker during the Seventh Avenue South era? My life changed quickly in l981 while working with Billy Cobham in a quartet format. We did a series of concerts in Lugano Switzerland that also included Gil Evans as well as Mike and Randy Brecker. It was there that my connection to Gil’s work and my first experience with Mike and Randy started. I also met my wife on that trip and moved to Switzerland […]
December 27, 2018
Steve Turre

Q&A: Steve Turre

Interview by Artistic Director Don Lucoff Q: When did you first enter Rahsaan’s orbit? A: In the fall of 1966 I went to see Roland Kirk at the Jazz Workshop in SF on a Sat night. I went to say hello after the set as I was really moved by his performance. He invited me to come and play with him at the kiddie matinee the next day (Sun). After that, he asked me to stay and play that evening. We exchanged numbers and after that, when he would come through town, he’d ask me to come and play with him in the local clubs. Q: Being from the Bay Area, you had a lot of time with him in and around the Keystone Korner, what […]
April 18, 2018

Appreciating Jazz This Spring

Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart informed us 80 years ago on Broadway that “Spring is Here,” and we have enjoyed this reminder ever since through the timeless renditions by Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, and Chet Baker. We also appreciate live jazz in the Spring and are about to globally celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Recognized by UNESCO, this auspicious day culminates Jazz Appreciation Month and PDX Jazz is sharing their appreciation with you, the audience who also appreciates this great art form that began in America but is now embraced globally. The snow is now behind us and there is lots to explore during the second half of April. Our partners at the Soul’D Out Music Festival […]
April 3, 2018

John Nastos Group at The 1905

So much going on in April, jazz appreciation month, at PDX Jazz including a performance by reeds man, and Portland native, John Nastos. He has an impressive bio, but it’s his energy and seductive sound that speaks louder than any words. I’ve heard him many times, yet I know the next time he’ll play, there will be no ennui and the audience will not be disappointed. He’s that good, and that adept, at giving jazz a good name. One of those “next times” is offered by PDX Jazz. April 10th the John Nastos Group will perform 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm at The 1905. See y’all there! –DEBORAH DEMOSS SMITH