Chano Dominguez

MusicWatch Weekly: choral collaborations

Choirs join orchestras for major musical matchups on Oregon stages this week

Normally many of us have to wait till August’s William Byrd Festival to hear the fine Portland choir Cantores in Ecclesia in a public concert. But on Sunday afternoon at the beautiful Mount Angel Abbey outside Silverton, you can hear them sing a couple of 20th century French choral classics — Maurice Duruflé’s consoling Requiem with organ and chamber orchestra, and Francis Poulenc’s unaccompanied, exhilarating Mass in G.

Blake Applegate leads Cantores in Ecclesia.

Small ensembles and soloists from Consonare Chorale sing songs about life’s serendipitous silver linings Saturday at Portland’s Imago Dei, 1404 SE Ankeny.

Oregon Chorale continues to raise its artistic ambitions in its Saturday and Sunday concerts in Hillsboro, bringing in a full professional orchestra, PCC Rock Creek Chamber Singers, and four of Portland’s best vocal soloists – soprano Lindsey Cafferky, mezzo Laura Beckel Thoreson, tenor Les Green, tenor, and bass-baritone Damien Geter — to help perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’s sugary Serenade to Music and Franz Schubert’s Mass No. 5.

Jason Sabino leads Oregon Chorale. Photo: Don White.

Another choral-orchestral collaboration, Holst’s ever-popular The Planets, highlights the Vancouver Symphony’s season-closing concert with Vancouver USA Singers at Skyview Hall Saturday and Sunday. The how also features concertos starring the three gold medalists from its Young Artists Competition, and the Holst is enhanced by  award winning real-time high definition NASA animations and stills on big screens.

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Portland Jazz Festival review: Pianists prevail

Though the spotlight shone on saxophones, keyboard masters tickled heartstrings and ivories at the 2016 festival

Story by ANGELA ALLEN

Photos by MARK SHELDON

Virtuoso saxophonists were the Coltrane-centric Portland Jazz Festival’s backbone Feb. 18-28: Joe Lovano, Gary Bartz, Nicole Glover, Charles Lloyd, Sonny Fortune, Renato Caranto, Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane — not in that order.

The keyboardists, though, stole my heart — not only the soloists but the sidemen who played in trios and quartets, duos and big bands, alongside the headliners.

Gerald Clayton © 2016 Mark Sheldon

Gerald Clayton © 2016 Mark Sheldon

Throughout the 11-night extravaganza, musicians brought so much technical talent. They delivered high-spirited performances with originality, even if I heard second-week high-profilers Ravi Coltrane and Orrin Evans complain that audiences demand the oldies, limiting experimentation that fuels new music.

Some special recognition over the jazz festival week, mostly keyboard-related.

Most whimsical piece: “Shed,” named for saxophonist Joshua Redman’s mother, Renee Shedroff. Aaron Goldberg composed and played it, stretching his neck like an Egyptian muse or a cobra, during his first-week solo concert at Classic Pianos. Heavy on staccato notes with some fun rhythmic structure in the left hand, it spoofs Redman’s sax practicing — and he practices a lot, according to Goldberg. Redman is one of Goldberg’s mentors, collaborators and role models: They both went to Harvard and Goldberg picked his brain for how to survive Harvard and remain a driven jazz musician (don’t play with Harvard guys, they both say).

Goldberg is a smooth, cerebral pianist, technically savvy, a lover of Brazilian song, a master of control. His newest CD, The Now, with several Brazilian-inspired cuts, shows his respect for that country’s vibrant song-writing tradition, which Goldberg claims equals, sometimes surpasses, America’s songbook these days. He is such a skilled improviser and fluid player that songs move seamlessly and stealthily into one another. “Autumn Leaves” emerged as one of the few instantly recognized pieces.

Most moving trio keyboard playing: Gerald Clayton, son of band leader and bassist John Clayton and a 31-year-old piano phenom, helped the very tall and slightly stooped Charles Lloyd on and off the Newmark Theatre stage during the first weekend. Clayton climbed high to the peaks and fell deep to the valleys of the “Wild Man Dance Suite” with the lyrical Lloyd, who will be a remarkable 78 years old this month. Clayton and drummer Eric Harland amped up the quartet with their solos. In Portland in previous years with the SF Jazz Collective and other gigs, Harland plays on Goldberg’s The Now. During Lloyd’s concert, he knocked out the sweetest, softest, most dynamic — OK, most orgasmic —drum solo of the fest. He doesn’t answer his email from writers he doesn’t know, but hey, if he can drum like that …

Brandee Younger © 2016 Mark Sheldon-PDX JAZZ -3015

Brandee Younger © 2016 Mark Sheldon

Best educator: Although I didn’t catch every concert, I’d lay bets on harpist Brandee Younger. During her sold-out solo concert at Classic Pianos on Feb. 28, she took the eager audience through Dorothy Ashby interpretations, including Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic,” a Welsh folk song, classic harp compositions from composer Alphonse Hasselmans, Charlie Haden’s “For Turiya,” standards “Embraceable You” and “My Funny Valentine,” and best of all, Alice Coltrane’s Hindu-inspired “Rama Rama.”

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