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Interviews

Bill Royston: The History of a Festival

By Published: January 21, 2010

AAJ: Let's talk about the 2010 festival coming up in February. What can we expect?

Don Lucoff Don Lucoff, Portland Jazz Festival Managing Director

BR: Just re-reading the first portion of this interview from ten months ago, I have to laugh at my comments about never working with a deficit. We confronted our first deficit after the Blue Note festival, but we spent five months creatively resolving it and now moving forward. The management priority for 2010 was to find new leadership, and we've brought in Don Lucoff, an old friend from back east. Don knows jazz and he knows the business. If nothing else, there's another jazz-head in the office! We have put together a new team that has taken a lot of the pressure off of me.

Artistically, this may very well be it for me, but I had one more project in mind. I want to explore the new music coming from Scandinavia, and especially Norway. We've taken our title from Stuart Nicholson's book, Is Jazz Dead (Or Has It Moved to a New Address)? (Routledge, 2005). The question is rhetorical. Of course, jazz is very much alive, but it has spread globally and Americans need to recognize that. This is no longer just America's music. How could it be? As a culture, we have stopped supporting the art form, but in other areas like parts of Asia and Europe along with Central America it has been embraced with regional and cultural stylization. That's what jazz is.

Programmatically, we're hopefully creating a point-counterpoint, presenting such Norwegian artists as Christian Wallumrod, Trygve Seim

Trygve Seim
Trygve Seim

saxophone
, Frode Haltli, and the trio In The Country
In The Country
In The Country

band/orchestra
along side such great American masters as Dave Holland
Dave Holland
Dave Holland
b.1946
bass
, Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
b.1940
saxophone
, Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
, and others.

As in the past, there will be outreach events to address the question along with Jazz Conversation with most of the major artists, plus school performances celebrating Black History Month and dozens of free performances showcasing regional artists. In the future, my role will decrease but I'm more optimistic that the Portland Jazz Festival will continue.

Photo Credits

Page 2: Guri Dahl, courtesy of In The Country

Page 3: Courtesy of Trygve Seim

Page 4: Tyler Olson, courtesy of Christian Wallumrød

Page 5: Jimmy Katz

Page 6: Mike Zacchino, courtesy of The Oregonian



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