MusicWatch Weekly: Jazz giants and geniuses

Oregon's musical week is heavy on jazz, and offers plentiful musical attractions in other genres too

It’s raining jazz in Oregon: so many shows to choose among, including the world’s greatest jazz orchestra, a pair of fine drum and keyboard duos, and more. Plus there’s two flavors of improv-heavy Indian music, Japanese percussion, and even some classical chamber and choral concerts. If you know of other concerts of interest to ArtsWatch readers this week, please share that info in the comments section below.

The Taiko Project and Portland Taiko perform Sunday. Photo: Rob Hammer.

The Taiko Project and Portland Taiko perform Sunday. Photo: Rob Hammer.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
October 12
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland.
Probably the finest jazz orchestra in the world features not just trumpeter/composer Marsalis’s richly colorful originals but also classics by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and contemporary big band composers and is a must see for big band fans. Thara Memory’s American Music Project, which so impressed Marsalis when he named them the winners of a major competition in New York last year, opens.

Scott Amendola and Wil Blades
October 12 Cozmic Pizza, Eugene, and October 13, Mississippi Studios, Portland.
Hammond B-3 and clavinet champ Wil Blades’s duo with Scott Amendola, probably the Bay Area’s busiest jazz drummer, echoes those groovy jazz organ-drum-bass trios of the 1950s and ‘60s but adds modern rhythms and harmonies. They’ve played with Nels Cline, John Zorn, John Scofield and plenty more.

Matt Chamberlain and Brian Haas
October 12, Talent Club, Talent, October 13, Sam Bond’s Garage, Eugene, October 14, Mississippi Studios, Portland.
Matt Chamberlain is well known for drumming with jazz stars like Bill Frisell, Herbie Hancock, and Brad Mehldau along with pop singers like David Bowie, Fiona Apple, and Morrissey. He and keyboardist Brian Haas, who leads the groovy Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, deliver strutting 21st century jazz/funk on their new album Prometheus Risen.

Xylouris White
October 13
WOW Hall, 291 W. 8th Ave. Eugene.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the duo featuring a Cretan lutenist and an Australian drummer.

Ingrid Laubrock & Tom Rainey
October 13
Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th Ave. Portland.
German-Brooklyn saxophonist Laubrock and fellow New Yorker Rainey have separately played with all range of improvisers, from jazz greats Dave Douglas, Mose Allison, Joe Lovano to Fred Hersch Kenny Wheeler and Jason Moran, among many, many others. They’ve also explored more avant garde regions, and their second album, the new Buoyancy, floats above categories.

Cavatina Duo
October 14
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland.
Spanish flutist Eugenia Moliner and Bosnian guitarist Denis Azabagic are not only one of the planet’s finest duos of their kind, but are also committed to performing and commissioning new music. Winners of multiple competitions, the Chicago-based duo has made some excellent albums for Chicago’s Cedille and other record labels. Though they’ve performed, separately and together, with top orchestras and chamber ensembles around the world, they’re entirely worth seeing on their own.

“Requiem for the Living
October 14-15
Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland, St. Andrew Catholic Church, 806 NE Alberta St. Portland.
Since at least Reagan’s reign, American soldiers have been in a more or less constant state of foreign wars — even if not declared by Congress as required in the Constitution. Between those military deaths and the many victims of mass shootings and other gun violence, tens of thousands of Americans annually killed in highway carnage, and the rest, America is in need of requiems: music written as a token of remembrance for the dead. Instead of the classical requiems we hear so often by Brahms, Faure, and others, Choral Arts Ensemble is singing a pair recently composed by Americans. Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec’s somber Songs of Love and War sets to music words drawn from letters written by American servicemen who fought in Vietnam, the two World Wars, and the Civil War. Dan Forrest’s big, lush, neo-Romantic Requiem for the Living, which uses traditional Christian liturgical texts, aims as much to console the living as to honor the dead. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to keep needing music like this.
7:30 pm Friday and Saturday. St. Andrew Catholic Church, 806 NE Alberta St, Portland. $14-$20.

Hornist Andrew Clark gives a pre concert talk at Portland Baroque Orchestra's concerts this weekend. Photo: Tori Ava.

Hornist Andrew Clark gives a pre concert talk at Portland Baroque Orchestra’s concerts this weekend. Photo: Tori Ava.

Portland Baroque Orchestra
October October 14 & 15, First Baptist Church, SW Taylor St. at 12th, and October 16, Kaul Auditorium, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. Reed College, Portland.
Despite its name, PBO has in recent years extended its musical explorations to the music of the later Classical era and even the early Romantics. This concert of music by Mendelssohn (a violin concerto, but not THE later violin concerto that’s heard so often, plus a couple of his early little string symphonies) and Mozart (his darkly dramatic penultimate symphony, #40, in the original version before Mozart added clarinets to the woodwind section) should also profit from PBO’s period instruments and historically informed approach, which restores the needed transparency and buoyancy to a pair of composers whose music is often weighed down by heavy later Romantic styles and anachronistic instruments. If you’ve never heard this music played as the composers intended it, this concert will likely be a revelation. If you have, you already have your tickets.

Opera Fest 2016!
Cascadia Concert Opera, October 14, Universalist Unitarian Church, 5090 Center St NE, Salem, and October 16, First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street, Eugene.
CCO musicians play and sing popular opera arias by Mozart, Gershwin, Puccini, Bizet, Verdi, Weill, Menotti, and more.

To Cuba With Love”
October 15
Cascadia Composers, Portland State University, Lincoln Hall 75.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this concert featuring the Oregon-grown music that will be performed in Cuba in November.

Patho Sarothy
October 15
First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Avenue, Portland.
In this Kalakendra concert, the young Indian sarod virtuoso in accompanied in Hindustani classics by percussionists Abhijit Banerjee and Somnath Roy.

Mysore Brothers
October 15
Jaya Hanuman Temple 17235 Nw Corridor Ct, Ste 175, Beaverton.
If your tastes run more to South Indian than North Indian music, the violin virtuosos, frequently presented in Oregon by Rasika, return for a performance of Carnatic music, accompanied by percussionists Srimushnam Raja Rao and Giridhar Udupa.

Portland Gay Men’s Chorus
October 15
Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, Portland.
The choir’s biennial adults-only naughty cabaret returns. Be ready to blush.

Oregon Symphony, Jason Alexander
Oct. 15-16
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland.
Most people will forever think of him as Seinfeld’s George Costanza, but he was singing show tunes before that and won a best leading actor Tony for his performance in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, so this performance of classic show tunes from various Broadway eras is more than just a celeb dilettante show.

TaikoProject, Portland Taiko
October 16
3:00 p.m. Sunday. Cabell Center Theater, Catlin Gabel School, 8825 SW Barnes Road. Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the dynamic Los Angeles-based ensemble’s shared performance with Portland’s own Japanese percussion masters.

Cascadia Viols
October 16
United Lutheran Church, 22nd and Washington Streets, Eugene.
Portland guest vocalists Kerry McCarthy and Tim Galloway, veterans of the annual William Byrd Festival, join the early music string players in consort music, selections from his Mass for Five Voices, and other music for viols/or and voices by England’s greatest Renaissance composer.

Anna Fritz plays and sings cello folk music.

Anna Fritz plays and sings cello folk music.

Anna Fritz, Hollis Peach, King Roy Wing
October 16
The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell St. Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the Portland Cello Project co-founder’s cello-folk CD release.

Dennis Plies and Colleen Adent
October 16
Warner Pacific College, McGuire Auditorium SE 68th Avenue & Division, Portland.
The marimba-piano duo plays music by JS Bach, Schubert and Howard Whitaker.

Chamber Music Amici
October 17
Wildish Community Theater, Springfield.
Some of Eugene’s finest classical musicians (most present or former University of Oregon faculty) play Mozart’s String Quartet K. 159 and Brahms’s mighty Piano Quintet in f.

Danish String Quartet
October 17 & 18
Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University.
Friends of Chamber Music brings one of the most highly regarded younger string quartets to perform music by Beethoven, Janacek, Shostakovich and a brand new composition by Ralf Wallin called Swans Kissing.

McCoy Tyner
October 18
Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark Street, Portland.
One of the most prodigious pianists in jazz history, Tyner manned the keyboard in John Coltrane’s most revered bands and albums in the 1960s, which has unfortunately tended to overshadow his later work with his own bands, including almost 80 albums as a leader. Tyner’s played with practically all the greats of the past five decades; his quartet this time includes renowned saxophonist Gary Bartz and bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Joe Farnsworth.

Itzhak Perlman
October 18
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland.
The living legend violinist and ambassador for classical music joins pianist Rohan De Silva in a recital featuring music by Brahms, Beethoven, French Baroque composer Jean Marie Leclair and Ravel’s ravishing second sonata for violin and piano.

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4 Responses. Have your say.

  1. bob priest says:

    Wynton is also one of America’s greatest composers. Check out his “Big Train” CD sometime, wow!
    I saw/heard him give an astoundingly brilliant quintet concert in Victoria, BC about 20 years ago. After the generally staid Victorians gave him a truly rousing ovation, he came back out & gave what was essentially a 45-minute master class on improvisation. Sure, he’s a bit on the conservative side, but when you are THIS good, heck, you can be anything you want & Marsalis is a straight-up STUD!

    • Agreed, Bob! Along with his jazz-oriented originals, I really like some of his other compositions, like the string quartet “At the Octoroon Balls” that Harlem String Quartet played in Portland earlier this year — one of the delightful pieces of contemporary American chamber music I know. I wish more quartets would play it instead of recycling the same old same old Euro classics. I also wish Marsalis would announce in advance whether his own music would appear on the JLCO program, but as usual, the press release merely states that they’ll announce the program from the stage, which isn’t very audience friendly.

      • bob priest says:

        I’m 100% for announcing specific repertoire in PR as I rarely fork out for a mere celebrity gig.
        For example, I’m a huge Arditti String Quartet fan, but if they’re playing Lachenmann & Carter, I stay home with their Scelsi & Xenakis CDs.
        The artist I grant carte blanche these daze is Barbara Hannigan & dat’s about it, droogies.

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