Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Annual Montavilla Jazz Festival

Ryan Meagher, one of the organizers of the Montavilla Jazz Festival
I wanted to just say a quick word about a new jazz festival in Portland: The Montavilla Jazz Festival, which enjoyed it's inaugural run this past weekend. Montavilla is a neighborhood in Southeast Portland which is very near the North side of Mt. Tabor( close to where I live, actually). It's not at hip as the Mt. Tabor/ Hawthorne area, but it is an up and coming neighborhood( maybe the fact that it's less hip than Hawthorne makes it more hip? Maybe especially because I, a non-hipster, thinks it's not as hip, that would make it ironically way more hip? Oy....)The festival was a two day celebration of Portland's finest jazz musicians. I performed with two groups, my own Theoretical Planets featuring Joe Manis and Nicole Glover on Tenor saxophones, and Jon Lakey on bass( I play drums in the group). I stayed on drums with the next group, pianist Kerry Politzer's quintet featuring again Lakey, Glover, and trumpeter Thomas Barber. I got to hear a bit of the PJCE Core Sextet, which featured guest artist and  my Portland State University colleague pianist Darrell Grant on some fiery odd meter solos( after hearing him tear up the piano, I was glad I was a drummer for the day!)

Organizers Fritz Hirsch, Ryan Meagher , Aaron Heyman, and  Neil Mattson did an incredible job. The venue was packed with enthusiastic and attentive listeners, and everything was very smooth and well thought out. I was pleasantly surprised that for a grass roots effort and especially a first go around, there was a check in desk, badges, a green room, and a stage manager! I hope that this is the start of something great and I hope the Montavilla Jazz Festival will be around for a long time in Portland.

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