2012 U.S. Bank Portland Jazz Festival Presented By Alaska Airlines Concludes on a High Note 9th Annual Event Featured Four Sold Out Shows ### 10th Anniversary Festival Set For February 15-24, 2013

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2012 U.S. Bank Portland Jazz Festival Presented By Alaska Airlines

Concludes on a High Note

9th Annual Event Featured Four Sold Out Shows

10th Anniversary Festival Set For February 15-24, 2013

The 2012 U.S. Bank Portland Jazz Festival presented by Alaska Airlines was held Friday, February 17 through Sunday, February 26 at venues throughout Portland.  The 9th annual 10 day Festival included 11 ticketed shows (four of which were sold out) between six Festival venues, and 24 Festival partner venues staging upwards of 100 free events presenting education and outreach of internationally recognized and local musicians playing a wide-range of jazz styles.  Plans are already underway for the 10th anniversary Festival to be held February 15-24, 2013 with headliners and special programs to be announced this Fall.

The 2012 Festival kicked off with this year’s Portland Jazz Master, Thara Memory, in a sold out program titled “Artfully Miles,” which boasted over two dozen student and professional musicians, and two spoken word griots.  In an emotionally charged evening, educator Susie Jones began with opening remarks and a congratulatory proclamation to Thara from Mayor Sam Adams.  Portland native Esperanza Spalding made a surprise appearance accompanying Memory on stage and eloquently reflecting on her former teacher.  The performers then deftly moved through highlighted sections of music from Davis’ Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess recordings and concluded with later career Davis works, TuTu and Amandla.


Enrico Rava, with his Italian-based quintet”Tribe,”andThe Jazz Passengers featuring special guest Dan Balmer also headlined on the opening weekend. Rava made his Portland debut and his second ever appearance on the west coast, the last time being 1976 as part of the ECM Jazz Festival.  Pianist Tony Pacini opened for Tribe with a set featuring Italian American composers. The Jazz Passengers made their Festival debut, and the group’s co-leaders Curtis Fowlkes and Roy Nathanson arrived in town early to perform the national anthem for Portland Trail Blazer fans at the Rose Garden.  Trumpeter Farnell Newton performed an opening set for the Passengers of Art Blakey inspired hard bop with his quintet.  Newton also served as curator on the second weekend for the Student Stage, which for the first time was held at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. Eight student ensemble performances were featured over two days, including an all-star group from the acclaimed Brubeck Institute.

The Festival’s second week began at Jimmy Mak’s on President’s Day with a focus on education, featuring three area ensembles: Alan Jones Academy of Music, Derek Sims and the Metropolitan Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Ben Medler. All three had the opportunity to perform with jazz legend Charles McPherson followed by individual workshops. The festive day concluded with evening sets anchored by McPherson with the PSU Jazz Ensemble and a closing set tribute to Charlie Parker and Lester Young featuring the Randy Porter Trio. “What an exciting way to kick off our new relationship with Jimmy Mak’s,” states Festival Managing Director, Don Lucoff. “We have ambitious plans to continue programming PDX Jazz @ Jimmy Mak’s on a year-round basis, allowing us to route national artists while they are touring the west coast.  Bassist Ben Williams made his west coast debut as a leader and performed two weeks after the 2012 Festival.  PDX Jazz will also produce the Portland debut by five-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Tierney Sutton at Jimmy Mak’s on April 30.”


A Festival favorite, The Bridgetown Sextet, featuring Devin Phillips and Marilyn Keller drew an overflow audience on Fat Tuesday for “Mardi Gras @ The Mission Theater”. White Bird Dance, in partnership with the Festival, presented “Griot New York the following night. This was a highly anticipated and legendary collaboration between the Tony® Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Wynton Marsalis and celebrated sculptor Martin Puryear. The pre-recorded, three-part composition used jazz to render the history and feeling of New York City, and the emotional references connected to styles and rhythmic grooves.


This year’s headliners for the second weekend of the Festival featured long overdue return engagements by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Branford Marsalis and Bill Frisell, along with debut Festival appearances by Roy Haynes, Charlie Hunter and Vijay IyerBridgewater and Haynes packed Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall for their respective “Jazz Conversations” prior to their performances.  Bridgewater,who last performed on the Festival in 2006, performed a loving tribute to Billie Holiday, a project which yielded a 2011 GRAMMY® Award.  Haynes, a celebrated NEA Jazz Master, made his Portland debut at the age of 86 and wowed the Newmark Theatre audience with references from Baby Dodds and Kenny Clarke to Sid Catlett and Philly Joe Jones.


The revered Seattle-based guitarist Bill Frisell performed in a two-night program titled “For Portland Only.” On the first night, Frisell and his cohorts paid tribute to the works of pedal steel guitarist, Wesley Webb “Speedy” West and guitarist, fiddle player and producer, Jimmy Bryant as well as pop icon John Lennon. Frisell’s second evening was not as freewheeling, as he gathered his classically inspired 858 Quartet, preceded by an improvised solo set.


Guitar phenom Charlie Hunter performed a “Solo Jam” as part of the “PDX Afrobeat Breakdown,” which took on the characteristics of a late Saturday night dance party performed by three celebrated local ensembles, Scott Pemberton, Ben Darwish and Commotion and the Fela inspired large ensemble, Jujuba.  “This was new ground for the Festival,” states Lucoff.  “We are passionate about developing new audiences and will continue to look at fresh ways to program the wealth of Portland area talent who have been cultivating their respective grass roots followings year-round.”


The celebrated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer performed earlier Saturday for a matinee audience, making his long overdue Portland debut. He was joined by India-based guitar-composer Prasanna and tabla player Nitin Mitta performing their project Tirtha on an East meets West program titled “From New York to Tamil Nadu.”   Decemberists and Black Crows bassist, Nate Query served as MC.


Branford Marsalis, who last appeared with his quartet at the Festival in 2008, closed the Festival in a duet setting with Joey Calderazzo, his pianist of 14 years.  In only their third U.S. appearance with this specific project, the likeminded musical colleagues performed compositions from their recently released album, Songs Of Mirth and Melancholy, a landmark recording that showcased Calderazzo’s “Hope,” a moving tribute to the late Michael Brecker, among other selections.


“With well over 80% of our Festival programming available free of charge, we take great pride in making sure the annual event is inclusive from education and outreach to local, national and internationally renowned performers,” stated Lucoff. “This year’s Festival put a strong focus on local artists. We received positive responses from the artists and community about having Portland musicians open for headliners and perform as special guests. We also heard from many out of town fans who annually come to hear the variety of local players while enjoying the intimate settings in which they are presented,” concluded Lucoff.

Mission Statement:


PDX Jazz, a non-profit cultural arts organization founded in 2003 in partnership with Travel Portland, produces the annual Portland Jazz Festival. The organization’s mission is to inspire, educate and develop future jazz audiences for generations to come. 


The Portland Jazz Festival is a multi-venue series of jazz events presented each February within Portland, Oregon. Nationally and regionally supported as a cultural tourism initiative in celebration of Black History Month, Portland Jazz Festival is dedicated to preserving America’s indigenous art form by presenting internationally recognized jazz masters alongside local jazz musicians.  A series of jazz education and outreach programs that extend into Portland’s schools and neighborhoods is at the heart of the annual event.

PDX Jazz id dedicated to curating performances at various Portland venues throughout the year such as the current monthly PDX Jaxx @ The Mission Theater series and programming nationally acclaimed artists at Jimmy Mak’s.


For media inquires please contact:
Franny Kane –
fkane@pdxjazz.com  503-228-5299


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