Where I’ve Been

March 12th, 2018

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Along Highway 16 in Pottawatomie County, Kansas

March 6, 2018

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February and early March have been consumed by my work as Board Chair of PDX Jazz (Portland, Oregon), the presenting organization of the PDX Jazz Festival, which this year took place Feb. 15 – 25.   Immediately following the Festival, I spent some time out on the road with a dear friend, exploring the clubs and museums of Kansas City and the surrounding prairie.  Some highlights of the Festival events and travels follow…

Soon to be back in the swing of things!

 

 

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Snow fell during much of Festival week…This is SW Broadway in downtown Portland on February 20, outside one of the Festival venues

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This year’s Festival included performances by the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, Kurt Elling, Luciana Souza, David Sanchez, Julian Lage, Bill Frisell, Regina Carter, Tigran Hamasyan, Lisa Fischer, Richie Cole, Esperanza Spalding (with Ravi Coltrane and Terri Lynne Carrington), Marcus Roberts, Russell Malone, Ethan Iverson, George Colligan, Dr. Lonnie Smith, the Miles (Davis) Electric Band, and an ensemble called “Jazz By 5,” featuring Randy Brecker, Joanne Brackeen, Eddie Gomez, Jimmy Cobb and Javon Jackson.  Portland’s talented local jazz musicians were also a major part of the Festival lineup.  It was a fascinating 10 days – challenged by three days of snow in the midst of the calendar — that showcased the music’s diversity in a variety of venues, and amid Portland’s unique culture.

 

 

Abdullah Ibrahim’s performance was a highlight of this year’s festival…You can read a review of the Festival by clicking here and here.

 

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One of the perks of the “job” is getting to meet some of the artists, including Mr. Ibrahim, who I escorted around town for a couple of days.

 

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Part of the PDX Jazz organizational mission is to inspire a new generation of jazz fans, and the “Jazz in the Schools” program connects Portland area students to the music via the great album artwork of the LP era.  Students create their own album art by interpreting the music while listening to it.  2,000 students participated in the program this year, and 250 of the exceptional designs were displayed during an exhibition in the Portland Art Museum on February 13.

 

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Hundreds of students enjoyed a day at the Museum…

 

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150 judges chose their favorite pieces…

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…culminating in the grand prize winning art by 7th grader Edith Crever of Ockley Green Middle School becoming the commemorative poster of this year’s Festival

 

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The entire collection of art that was displayed in the Art Museum is currently in the window of City Target in downtown Portland.  The poster-sized art in this picture is grand prize winning designs created by high school students

 

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Middle school winners

 

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Another education initiative is “The Incredible Journey of Jazz,” where students learn about jazz from its beginnings in Africa, its development in the United States, and its current role in world culture.  The 60 minute live performance includes narration, classic photographs, and a septet performing music by the likes of Scott Joplin, Armstrong, Ellington, Bird, Dizzy, and Miles…This year two shows were performed in front of 5,000 students at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

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PDX Jazz education outreach programs reached 10,000 students during the 2017-2018 school year

 

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Following the Festival I met a buddy in Kansas City

 

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We visited the Jazz Museum in the 18th and Vine district — a worthwhile visit for anyone with an interest in the music and culture of jazz

 

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Part of the Museum’s exhibit devoted to Louis Armstrong

 

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Much of the Museum honors the contributions of native son Charlie Parker

 

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The space is shared with the Negro League Baseball Museum, another excellent destination

 

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The legendary Satchel Paige

 

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The 18th and Vine district at Sunset

 

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Taking in a show at the Green Lady Lounge…

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…and another next door

 

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Along the back highways of eastern Kansas…the County Courthouse in Ottawa

 

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Near Lone Star Lake along the way to Lawrence

 

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The Jazzhaus in Lawrence, one of many clubs in the vibrant college town

 

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Along Highway 177, Geary County, Kansas

 

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A walk along the Tall Grass Prairie Reserve

 

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“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

-Walt Whitman

 

 

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