theresa koon

MusicWatch Weekly: Look before you leap day

A weekend of concerts and a Portland Weird undectet

Fry Day

As usual, we’d like to start by bringing you last minute news of a few shows happening tonight, tonight, tonight. As you read this, Mike Dillon and Band are packing up their road bags, leaving Eugene (where they played at Whirled Pies last night), and trekking up I-5 to Portland, where they’ll head straight down to the Jack London Revue subterraenan social club for an evening of what we can only call “gonzo punk jazz.”

See, from a technique perspective these dudes are all basically just avant-garde jazz musicians (bandleader Dillon is in wide demand as a vibraphonist and all-around killer percussionist), but–like so many others over this last half-century of escalating strangeness–they’ve found the grittiest, truest expression of both “avant-garde” and “jazz” not in the relatively staid traditional world of characters like Henry Threadgill and Branford Marsalis (who are, of course, total badasses and not to be trifled with except for purposes of this strained comparison), but instead have seen the true face of “jazz” and “avant-garde” in the wooly realm of punk, metal, and other folk musicks of the rough and ragged variety. If that’s your bag, dear reader, get on it!

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MusicWatch Weekly: The fanfare zone

Gongs and songs, traditional guitars and uncommon fanfares, and a lecture on women in jazz

Tonight, tonight, tonight!

Your busy music editor has to miss a bunch of cool stuff tonight, dear reader: I’ll be schlepping gongs and playing reyong with Gamelan Wahyu Dari Langit, opening for Wet Fruit at Mississippi Studios. If you followed our adventures in Bali last summer and want to hear what all the fuss was about, here’s your chance.

We’ve been hearing the name Mary-Sue Tobin for years: her saxophone quartet Quadraphonnes is a real riot, and the composer/saxophonist herself gets involved in all sorts of Portland jazz shenanigans. Tonight at Literary Arts in Southwest, Tobin presents her free Women in Jazz lecture.

Across the river at Holocene on Southeast Belmont, local musicians Night Heron, Korgy & Bass, and Colin Jenkins join hands with local puppeteers for Pop + Puppetry. Meanwhile, down in Eugene, the symphony’s got a show tonight that Senior Editor Brett Campbell wants to tell you about:

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Resonance Ensemble preview: questions of faith

Choral organization's 'Souls' concert is part of a season-long musical exploration of timely social concerns

“This year, a lot of us are feeling the need to make sure our art is responding to the times we are in,” says Resonance Ensemble founder and director Katherine FitzGibbon. On Sunday, the acclaimed choral organization presents a concert that revolves around religious conflict and misunderstanding — part of a season-long emphasis on music and other arts that revolve around pressing social issues.

‘Souls’ is the second of three concerts in Resonance’s 2017-18 season, whose programming explores contemporary concerns through art. “Resonance has always had a desire to do concerts that have themes that connect deeply with people,” says FitzGibbon, whether connected to social justice or personal topics. “Because we sing choral music where the texts are paramount, we get to overtly explore these questions.”

Resonance Ensemble performing in 2015. Photo: Alan Niven.

Actually, the ensemble’s intensified focus on social issues started earlier, immediately after last year’s presidential inauguration, with sharp political commentary in some pieces in the choral ensemble’s February 2017 “Dirty Stupid Music” cabaret show. Resonance’s next concert last June focused on grief and healing, with works by Portland composer Renee Favand-See and singer-songwriter Nikole Potulsky about the loss of children, and also an original song by Portland theater artist Vin Shambry about “the decline of compassion and other changes in the political climate and how he was experiencing it personally,” FitzGibbon recalls.

The ensemble then decided to organize this season around a trio of urgent social concerns. For November’s “Voices” concert, “we collaboratively explored a lot of music that’s not part of the canon so much,” she explains. “There’s nothing wrong with the canon, but we had to think critically why certain works are in the canon and others aren’t — which composers’ voices are underrepresented. Especially in the divisive political climate we’re experiencing, we need to be really mindful of whose voices who are — and aren’t — at the table in the arts and particularly in Portland.”

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