PDX Jazz Blog

September 8, 2017

Exclusive Interview with Christian McBride on Ray Brown Tribute

We are very excited to present renowned jazz bassist Christian McBride live in concert at The Mission Theater on Wednesday, October 18 in a debut program in tribute to jazz bass icon Ray Brown that also features pianist Benny Green and Lewis Nash (Tickets are available here). PDX Jazz Executive Artistic Director Don Lucoff caught up with McBride while he was finishing up a Quincy Jones Tribute show at the Hollywood Bowl on what Ray Brown and his music have meant to McBride and his own career, and here’s what he had to say… PDX: The word mentor comes up frequently when Ray’s name is mentioned, can you connect the dots on that as it relates to your experiences with him on and off the bandstand? McB: Not sure something that involved could be explained in one answer. Ray mentored and inspired each and every person who was in his presence. Not […]
September 1, 2017

Listening to the History of Jazz: Unsung Pianists

By KMHD Radio’s Mark Montesano There are so many underrated piano players in jazz history that one could spend a lifetime listening to them all. As a continuation of last month’s blog on underrated tenor sax players I want to give some recognition to four of my favorite hard bop jazz pianists. Give a listen!   Elmo Hope (1923-1967): Born in New York City to parents who emigrated from the Caribbean. One of his childhood friends was Bud Powell. Both met Thelonious Monk in 1942 and they  began exchanging ideas and experimenting with new kinds of harmonies and melodies. His style was blues- based, with jagged lines and unexpected twists. He avoided virtuosity and speed in favor of subtle and complex choice of notes. Hope left for California where he lived from 1957-1961. Dissatisfied with the scene there, he moved back to New York where troubles with health and drugs hampered […]
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 – […]