2016 PDX Jazz Fest: What Would Coltrane Dig?

From Dianne Reeves to Coltrane’s own son Ravi, this month’s citywide jazz spectacular pays tribute to a legend who would have turned 90 this year. These are the shows we think he’d catch.

By Ramona DeNies February 17, 2016

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PDX Jazz Fest's 'Trane tribute: all aboard!

Spoiler alert: according to organizers of the 2016 PDX Jazz Fest, legendary bandleader John Coltrane didn’t really have any direct Portland connections. But frankly, the artist behind A Love Supreme didn’t need to set foot in Stumptown to profoundly shape our jazz landscape.

From Portland’s “best-kept jazz secret” Chuck Israels—who recorded with Coltrane back in 1958—to Coltrane’s own son Ravi, the next 10 days will see 100-plus cross-town events pay tribute to the man in what would have been his 90th year.

Below, we’ve got six picks for the 13th annual extravaganza’s can’t-miss shows. We’re bound to have missed other solid-gold options, so check the full festival line-up here. Given the serious talent at hand, we’re hoping for more than a few moments of insane jazz magic. As the man himself said, “You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” 

Charles Lloyd Quartet
Thursday, Feb 19, Newmark Theatre
The Memphis saxophone star has played with the likes of Ornette Coleman and Cannonball Adderley.

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Daughter of Detroit: the great Dianne Reeves. Image credit: Jerris Madison

Dianne Reeves
Sunday, Feb 21, Newmark Theatre
A disciple of Sarah Vaughan, Reeves has won Grammys as best jazz vocalist for three consecutive albums. 

West Coast Blues
Wednesday, Feb 24, Jimmy Mak’s
Local drum guru Mel Brown wields his beats for a tribute that honors Coltrane-collaborating greats Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell. On this hot ticket: guitarists Dan Balmer and Henry Johnson, Louis Pain on Hammond organ, and Renato Caranto on sax.

Chuck Israels
Thursday, Feb 25, Jimmy Mak’s
Billie Holiday. Coleman Hawkins. Herbie Hancock. The Portland-based bassist has played with them all, even the Trane himself, when he was a lesser-known tenor sax player in the Miles Davis Quintet. The Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra released latest album Joyful Noise: The Music of Horace Silver this past summer. Noise: let’s have some more!

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Who better to invoke Alice and John Coltrane than son Ravi? Answer: Ravi and Pharaoh Sanders, onstage together.

Universal Consciousness: A Tribute to Alice Coltrane
Saturday, Feb 27, Newmark Theatre
Ravi Coltrane and special guest Pharoah Sanders (he of Sun Ra fame) tag-team this concert honoring Ravi’s mother Alice.

John Scofield and Joe Lovano Quartet
Sunday, Feb 28, Revolution Hall
A master of improv guitar, Scofield—hey, he just won a jazz instrumental Grammy for new album Past Present!—joins multi-reed maniac Lovano (also a Grammy winner) for the festival’s closing concert. 

The Biamp PDX Jazz Festival 2016 takes place from February 18–28 at venues across town.

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