• Online tributes to the great saxophonist from entertainers and journalists

  • A short story by Arya Jenkins, inspired by the life and music of Billie Holiday

  • What Queen Latifah left out of Bessie — the myth of Bessie Smith’s death

  • Reflections on meeting B.B. King

  • Surfing the Net -- Remembering Ornette Coleman
  • "Don't Threaten Me with Love, Baby" -- by Arya Jenkins
  • What Queen Latifah left out of Bessie
  • My B. B. King Story
jazzhands1 Quiz Show » Jazz History Quiz

Jazz History Quiz #70

In addition to being one of the greatest musicians of his generation, this Ohio native was an activist, leading “Jazz and People’s Movement,” a group who “adopted the tactic of interrupting tapings and broadcasts of television and radio programs in protest of the small number of African-American musicians employed by networks and recording studios.” Who was he?

Sir Roland Hanna

Randy Weston

Charles Mingus

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Booker Ervin

Ramsey Lewis

Anthony Braxton […] Continue reading »

ammons1 Uncategorized

Awakened by Gene Ammons

I awoke this morning to the sound of a Gene Ammons ballad, “Stella by Starlight.” As a disciple of the sound of Ben Webster and Lester Young, and having been in the forefront – along with Von Freeman — of the “Chicago school,” where a bluesy “expressiveness” was paramount to their style, his music has always moved me. His personal life had its challenges, having been incarcerated on a couple of occasions for narcotics possession, but his sound overcame that, evidenced by the contract he signed with Prestige Records following his 1969 release from prison, which at the time was the largest ever offered by the label.

While some critics questioned the relevance of his style, the pianist […] Continue reading »

vrp1 Art » Art Exhibits » Cover Story with Paul Morris

Shopping for vinyl in Northeast Portland

“Cover Stories with Paul Morris” is a popular feature found on Jerry Jazz Musician that looks at the serious art – and serious comedy – of vintage album cover art. Paul is a dear friend of mine and fellow Portland resident who happens to be a music scholar and album cover collector. In most cases, it is not the music he seeks, it is the work of the artist who created the design.

Yesterday was a pretty typical late March Portland day – cool, gray and drizzly with an occasional dose of sunshine. It was “jacket weather” but no umbrella was necessary. It was a great day to hit a few record stores, of which there are many in this amazing town. Portland has more record stores (predominantly selling vinyl) than any other […] Continue reading »

jk Uncategorized

“Whiplash” — teaching success the old fashioned way, through humiliation

I finally got around to watching Whiplash over the weekend, accurately described by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw as the “Full Metal Jacket of jazz drumming.” Other than being recommended by several friends and casually knowing it involved a young musician attending a music conservatory, I did no research of the film prior to watching and had no expectation for it. I was struck by the brilliance of the performances – both acting and musical – but taken aback by the bizarre, near sadistic relationship between teacher (Terence Fletcher, played by Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons) and student (Andrew Neyman, played by Miles Teller).

It was great, but ultimately dispiriting art. How could anyone who purports to love music as much as Fletcher treat […] Continue reading »

armstrongportland Uncategorized


I am proud to report that I have recently been named President of PDX Jazz, the presenting organization of the Portland Jazz Festival (going forward it will be known as the PDX Jazz Festival). We just completed our 12th annual Festival season, hosting over 100 performance and education events, including shows by the likes of Ron Carter, Vijay Iyer, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Bill Charlap, Lee Konitz, Lou Donaldson, Billy Childs and Nicholas Payton, and our educational endeavors – a critical component of our mission – reached many of the city’s public school students. The Festival is an important component of the winter arts scene in Portland, which has become, as advertised, a model city for progressive politics and cultural pursuits.

We have recently moved our offices from downtown to the inner Northeast Alberta Street Arts District, and while putting together a brochure for an upcoming performance in this space, I am reminded of the long love affair Portland has had with jazz – a romance that continues to this day, evidenced by the […] Continue reading »