Best in the Northwest

The Portland Jazz Festival

by Judith Spitzer

Thursday, Feb. 15th, 2007

Just a few more days and all of you jazzaholics and fans of jazz will be able to soak in the multi-venue series of jazz events that have been part of Portland's cultural landscape since 2004.

The 2007 Portland Jazz Festival offers the opportunity to see contemporary jazz masters like Branford Marsalis, Chick Corea and Gary Burton in a number of headline concerts, local jazz musicians in intimate, free performances, and a celebration of Black History Month with a series of jazz education and outreach programs in Portland's schools and community centers. From Friday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, Feb. 25, there will be any number of ways to experience and appreciate jazz through performances, jam sessions, lectures, films and exhibitions in more than 125 events around Portland.

The 4th annual Portland Jazz Festival celebrates the 35th anniversary of Crystal Silence, the breakthrough recording of Chick Corea and Gary Burton (2/16) and one of the first ECM releases. ECM Records will be recognized for their nearly four decades of making an indelible imprint on contemporary jazz with a series of concerts, lectures, and workshops titled Crystal Silence: The Story of ECM Records, Feb. 16-18. Those events are at various venues and are free to the public.

Word on the street is that if you want to see people like Dave Douglas who is considered to be one of the most original American musicians, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, Kurt Elling and Chicago based, vocalist-songwriter-pianist Patricia Barber ... don't wait to get tickets. Get them in advance as they're probably going to be sold out. Bradford Marsalis has been sold out for a week now, but there are still tickets to see and hear Chick Corea (who was the recent Grammy winner for Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group) and Gary Burton, a master vibraphonist.

There's also a lot of excitement about Diego Ramirez and sax man Trygve Seim who will both appear on Saturday, Feb. 17. It is Ramirez' first trip to the U.S. and he will appear at the Hilton Pavillion Ballroom at 1 p.m., opening for pianist Geri Allen and her trio. A premiere jazz pianist and music educator from Detroit, Allen recorded the critically acclaimed The Life of a Song in 2004 with veterans Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette.

Other renowned artists include Maurice Brown a New Orleans trumpeter who, before Hurricane Katrina, appeared weekly with the Maurice Brown Quintet at Snug Harbor Bistro - New Orlean's premiere jazz club. Currently living in New York, he was recently featured on fellow transplanted New Orleanian and now Portlander, Devin Phillip's new album.

Sophie Faught, tenor saxophonist who has played with Grammy-winning Verve recording artist Nicholas Payton, Ingrid Jensen, the Four Tops, the Temptations and many others is also creating a lot of buzz. Portland Jazz Festival audiences will remember Faught as the young sax player with Nicholas Payton who electrified audiences at last year's festival.

Jazz guitarist Monnette Sudler, a Philadelphia musical legend for the "Philly Sound" in modern music has played regularly with Grover Washington, Jr. as well as many of the all-time jazz greats. Her newest release on Discography Records, "Meeting of the Spirits" is part of the Philly Jazz Series being produced in Europe.

And what Jazz Festival would be complete without the Cherry Poppin' Daddies who will appear at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom with Pepe and the Bottle Blondes and Stolen Sweets on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 20.

There is a Discover Series to highlight emerging national talent, community outreach events, free jazz around town and jam sessions including two midnight sessions at Alexander's Atop the Hilton, Jax Bar and the Portland Center Stage at the Armory.

Enjoy what is certainly one of the best jazz festivals around ... dedicated to furthering jazz as America's most indigenous art forms.

PDX Jazz events are free and open to the public, except for ticketed concerts and events with cover charges and/or drink minimums. Tickets for Portland Jazz Festival ticketed concerts are available at Music Millennium and TicketsWest locations. Because of a conflicting ticketing agreement with Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, tickets for the Chick Corea & Gary Burton performance are only available at TicketMaster locations. Tickets for all performances are available at the PCPA Box Office.

For additional information, call 503.228.JAZZ (5299) / 888.828.5299, or email info@pdxjazz.com.

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