The Jazz Fest Insider: What Would Chris Brown See?

With last night's super sold-out Bebel Gilberto concert, the 2015 PDX Jazz Fest is on deck. We asked some of Portland's hottest musicians what shows headline their list.

By Ramona DeNies February 19, 2015

Responses from musicians have been lightly edited.

Christopher Brown

CHISTOPHER BROWN: As always, I look forward to the camaraderie between musicians and the fans. This type of intimate interaction is literally impossible to facilitate within today's world of pop culture. However, what I'm really looking forward to is that I'm finally able to bring one of my all-time heroes and mentors, Ralph Bowen, out here. He's literally one of the greatest saxophonist to ever play jazz music; witnessing everyone's reaction is sure to be the highlight for me. 

Ralph Bowen Quartet
Feb 23 at the Old Church 

Mel Brown

MEL BROWN: The show with Freda Payne is going to be an interesting one.  I've always known her as a jazz singer because of her sister [Scherrie], who was one of the Supremes during my tenure. I love her big band CD and am considering putting a quintet together to form a "Cannonball/Nancy Wilson" setting to showcase her love of music. I'm sure people will want to hear her Motown sound, so I'll have something for both sides of her talent.      

My Town is Motown: Freda Payne with the Mel Brown Quintet
Feb 19 at Jimmy Mak's

Dave Captein

DAVE CAPTEIN: I'm most excited to see Christian McBride and his trio (he's one of my all time favorite bassists), the spellbinding Kurt Elling with the Art Abrams Big Band, Bill Charlap and his trio, and seeing Laurence Hobgood—a wonderful pianist and composer/arranger—and what he's up to.  

Elling Swings Sinatra with Art Abrams Swing Machine Big Band
Feb 20 at the Newmark Theatre 

Christian McBride Trio & Lou Donaldson Quartet
Feb 21 at the Newmark Theatre

Galen Clark

GALEN CLARK: I am particularly looking forward to seeing Lee Konitz.  I have been listening to his records for years and have yet to catch him live And I am big fan the Vijay Iyer—his trio is fantastic.  I will definitely be going to that show.

Vijay Iyer Trio
Feb 20 at the Winningstad Theatre  

Lee Koniz Quartet
Feb 22 at the Winningstad Theatre 

Darrell Grant

DARRELL GRANT: I'm looking forward to hearing Billy Child's Laura Nyro Project.  Billy is an amazing composer and I happened to run into him last year just after he had finished recording the CD. It will be exciting to hear it performed live.  

Nicholas Payton Trio and Billy Childs' Map to the Treasure
Feb 22 at the Newmark Theatre 



Gary Hobbs

GARY HOBBS: What I'm looking forward to the most this year is performing with one of my very favorite vocalists, Jackie Ryan. 

A Tribute to Michel Legrand featuring
Jackie Ryan and Portland Jazz Master Wayne Thompson

Feb 25 at Jimmy Mak's


Hailey Niswanger

HAILEY NISWANGER: What I am most looking forward to is my performance at Jimmy Mak's—also the CD release party for my new album!  PDX Soul is a funk, soul jazz, R&B record, featuring 17 Portland based professional musicians and produced by Grammy winner Thara Memory. For the past year I have been working so hard on this project, so we'll be ready to keep you up dancing all night!
Hailey Niswanger & PDX Soul
Feb 27 at Jimmy Mak's

Michael Raynor

MICHAEL RAYNOR: I'm looking forward to playing with old friends from Chicago alongside new friends from Portland. And I'm always honored to play tribute to Von Freeman, my mentor and employer for 22 years.

For Vonski, Jug, and Eddie Who?
Feb 20 at Jimmy Mak's 

The 2015 Portland Jazz Festival runs through March 1. Catch the full line-up on the festival website.
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