PDX Jazz Greats Pick the Best of the Jazz Fest

We ask some of the local masters playing the fest what shows they're most excited about. Feb 15–24

By Aaron Scott February 14, 2013 Published in the February 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

As the PDX Jazz Festival floods the city's stages with legends and locals and local legends alike (hello, Esparanza Spalding, aren't your two new Grammys looking fancy!?), we wanted to try something new: we asked some of the PDX masters who will be performing during the fest to recommend the musicians and lineups they're most excited about. Here are their picks, arranged chronologically, and some behind-the-scenes stories, too.

Barry Harris Trio, featuring Chuck Israels and Mel Brown
Fri, Feb 15 at 7, Jimmy Mak's

The performance with Barry Harris is something of a reunion. Barry and I have worked together many times over the years in performances at the Village Vanguard and Blue Note in New York, at the Keystone Corner in Tokyo, and in various concerts in Europe and Japan. Barry is a primary keeper of the bebop flame—a deeply committed and educated musician living in the tradition of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk. This will be the first time we have had a chance to play together in a few years. Festival producers are fond of putting together musicians who do not normally play together, and the results, while they are often interesting to the musicians and the audience, are sometimes fraught with unforeseen difficulties. This performance has the advantage of being a re-awakening of a well developed and reliable musical relationship. Playing with Barry is a joyous occasion.
Chuck Israels

Brooks Robertson Solo
Fri, Feb 15 at 7, Aloft Hotel at Cascade Station

I saw Brooks play for the first time when we played at the same music festival as kids. I was 15, and he was a 10-year-old prodigy and already awe-inspiringly good. He has grown into an incredible artist all-around, with both the phenomenal guitar playing talent that he was seemingly born to share with the rest of us, as well as the ability to write a killer song, all while retaining such a humble and kind spirit. He's really someone to watch.
Halie Loren performs with Matt Treder and Mark Schneider on Sat, Feb 23 at 8, the Benson Hotel

Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet, featuring Aaron Parks, Eric Revis, and Justin Faulkner
Thu, Feb 19 at 7:30, Evans Auditorium, Lewis and Clark College 

As I mention in my JazzScene interview this month, I'm excited to be playing in the same festival as Kurt Rosenwinkel.  I'm definitely going to catch his group on Feb 19. I was able to study with Kurt a little bit in my first year in New York. I still go back and listen to the mp3s of our lessons when I'm looking for something to rejuvenate my practice regimen.
Ryan Meagher performs with George Colligan on Fri, Feb 15 at 8, Riverplace Hotel

I am looking forward to the Kurt Rosenwinkel concert. I saw his group a few years ago in New York and really enjoyed it. Beyond Kurt's virtuosity as a guitarist, he is an excellent composer. 
Mike Pardew plays with various musicians on Feb 15, 16, 22, and 23 at 9:30, Nel Centro

Kenny Garrett Quintet, featuring Vernell Brown, Corcoran Holt, McClenty Hunter, and Rudy Bird
Thu, Feb 21 at 9:30, Winningstad Theatre

While I was turned on to the "real Kenny G" relatively recently, I've worn out quite a few of his cd's, including Happy People and Beyond The Wall. He performs with a sonic sense of purpose and beauty. With a flair for Asian melodic aesthetics, which I happen to be drawn to, he always works with incomparable musicians and creates high quality productions.
Anandi performs with Randy Porter on Thu, Feb 21 at 5, Marriott Waterfront

Ben Darwish & Michael Angela Duo
Fri, Feb 22 at 4, Porto Terra Lounge, Hilton Executive Tower

I have been a fan of Ben Darwish since we were both in college at the University of Oregon together. His piano and composition skills are out of this world, and the way he's expanded his musical work into so many interesting and exciting new places in recent years makes me want to go hear some of what he’s doing now.
Halie Loren performs with Matt Treder and Mark Schneider on Sat, Feb 23 at 8, the Benson Hotel

The Jazz Message: Celebrating Art Blakey with Musical Director Javon Jackson featuring Bobby Watson, Curtis Fuller, Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Buster Williams, and Lewis Nash
Fri, Feb 22 at 7, Newmark Theatre

I am most excited about the Art Blakey Tribute, given that these gentlemen have never shared the same stage. I have seen them all in various contexts—some with Blakey—but this will be extra special. The first time I saw Blakey at the Lighthouse, he played four sets, and I stayed for all of them.
Don Lucoff, Portland Jazz Festival Managing Director

Steve Kuhn Trio featuring Buster Williams and Joey Baron with special guest Devin Phillips
Fri, Feb 22 at 9:30, Winningstad Theatre

I'm looking forward to hearing pianist Steve Kuhn with Joey Baron, Buster Williams, and Devin Phillips. Concerts that bring together national artists with our world-class Portland-based artists are such a gift to the community.
Darrell Grant, a composer and professor of jazz studies at PSU, will be having a Jazz Conversation with Kenny Garrett and Devin Phillips on Thu, Feb 21 at noon, PSU Lincoln Hall #75

NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette featuring Ravi Coltrane, George Colligan, and Matthew Garrison
Sat, Feb 23 at 7, Newmark Theatre

I am most looking forward to Jack DeJohnette's thing with Ravi Coltrane, George Colligan, and Matthew Garrison. I think Ravi's newest album is one of my favorite albums released in the last ten years. And I'm obviously a fan of George's playing, because I asked him to play with me for the festival. But I don't think I've ever heard one of Jack's bands. When I think about Jack's playing, I think of him as a sideman. It'll be nice for me to get a different perspective from a musician who is right at the top of my "bucket list" of guys to play with.
Ryan Meagher performs with George Colligan on Fri, Feb 15 at 8, Riverplace Hotel

Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob plays Fellini: The Music Of Nino Rota, featuring Briggan Kraus, Tony Scherr, and Kenny Wollesen
Sat, Feb 23 at 9:30, Winningstad Theatre

I am looking forward to Steve Bernstein's new project, as I always admired the rollicking fun of Nino Rota's music, and Sexmob will know what to do with it.
Don Lucoff, Portland Jazz Festival Managing Director

Portland Jazz Master Nancy King “Just Friends,” featuring Steve Christofferson and Glen Moore
Sun, Feb 24 at 3, Winningstad Theatre

I'm most excited about Nancy King: a natural genius in all things music. She is one of my most favorite singers of all time. I look forward to hearing her with the ever-talented Glen Moore and Steve Christofferson. This concert will be full of perfect jazz music: honest swing, true beauty, impeccable phrasing, and fresh on-the-spot ideas.
Mary Kadderly hosts a singing workshop performance with King on Mon, Feb 18 at 7:30, West Café. She also performs with Dan Gildea on Fri, Feb 22 at 6:30 and Sat, Feb 23 at 6, West Cafe

ACS: Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding
Sun, Feb 24 at 7, Newmark Theatre

I'm looking forward to seeing Geri Allen. I saw her in New York City's Tomkins Square Park in the mid-'90s and was blown away. It doesn't hurt that she will be joined by Esperanza Spalding and Teri Lynn Carrington. What a match up!
Anandi performs with Randy Porter on Thu, Feb 21 at 5, Marriott Waterfront

ACS is of course going to be amazing given that it’s a West Coast premiere. Their lone New York show was impossible to get into at the Vanguard, so I am as excited as everyone else who will see this trio for the first time.
Don Lucoff, PJF Managing Director

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