PDX Jazz, the presenting organization of the Biamp PDX Jazz Festival, began operations in 2003 in preparation of the inaugural 2004 Jazz Festival. The proposed annual event was awarded a three-year city government grant with co-founder and partner Travel Portland (formally POVA). The Festival’s mandate was established as a cultural tourism initiative to celebrate Americas music and February’s Black History Month by producing a series of jazz performances and highlighting jazz education and outreach programs that would extend into Portland’s schools and community neighborhoods.
The Festival began to schedule dozens of ways to experience jazz through free and paid performances, lectures, films, exhibitions and jam sessions. From the organization’s beginning, education and outreach were established as a core element of the organization’s mission fostering development of the next generation of jazz audiences. The Incredible Journey of Jazz, developed by Darrell Grant and Lynn Darroch, established the Festival’s educational programming mission, focusing on sharing jazz with middle school students through an illuminating multi-media presentation boasting historical narration and performance. The engaging Jazz Conversation series, PDX Jazz Lectures and Jazz in the Schools art program joined Incredible Journey of Jazz as education initiatives.
With a multitude of headliners presented – the Festival, which is now accompanied by year round jazz performances, has stretched out to two weeks and programmed shows in nearly every performance venue in Portland. We continue to grow and expand our presentations and education programs in Greater Portland by evolving with the music and its audience.
The Portland Jazz Master
The Portland Jazz Master is a designation recognizing a regional artist or other jazz community member for their work and contributions to jazz in the Portland region. The Jazz Master nominee may be in any career phase, allowing PDX Jazz on some years to recognize and support upcoming talent, and in others to honor those who have been staples in the region’s jazz community for many years. Portland has a wealth of artists whose resonance in the community is truly outstanding and deserving of recognition.
The Portland Jazz Master designation was initiated in 2011, that year honoring Dave Frishberg. Recipients include: Thara Memory (2012), Nancy King (2013), Oregon (2014), Wayne Thompson (2015), Charles Gray (2016), Mel Brown (2017), Art Abrams (2018) and Darrell Grant (2019). With the inception of the McClendon-Makarounis Award for Jazz Advocacy in 2017, PDX Jazz then decided that the Portland Jazz Master recognition be solely presented to musicians, thus two separate awards are given annually for artist and community advocacy accomplishments. We are proud to honor Rebecca Kilgore as the 2020 Portland Jazz Master.
The McClendon/Makarounis Award
The McClendon/Makarounis Award in Excellence for Support of Jazz is given to a member of the Portland community who has made significant contributions to the prosperity, preservation, and advancement of jazz music and culture in Portland.
This award was originally named in honor of Bill McClendon, who established one of the first Portland jazz clubs on N. Williams Avenue, presenting such luminaries as Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane. McClendon also presented the first racially integrated concert in downtown Portland, served as an Oregonian columnist focusing regularly on civil rights issues, and co-founded and taught within the initial African American Studies program at Reed College.
Recipients include Wayne Thompson, Bea Eidsness, Jim Pepper, Bob Dietsche, Akbar DePriest, the family of Jimmy Makarounis, Marcia Hocker and Commissioner Nick Fish.
The PDX Jazz Programming Committee decides on the nominees and ultimately selects the Jazz Master, and the McClendon-Makarounis Award for Jazz Advocacy is a PDX Jazz board initiative.