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Live Reviews

2010 Portland Jazz Festival

By Published: March 26, 2010
On the last day of the festival, I had the honor of interviewing Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
prior to his performance at Portland's Crystal Ballroom. He would be performing with one of his latest musical incarnations, Brass Ecstasy, in memory of the late great Lester Bowie
Lester Bowie
Lester Bowie
1941 - 1999
trumpet
. As I mentioned in my introduction of Douglas, I believe his music will be a significant part of the tradition that future generations will be studying and researching. He has that rare ability of being able to write compositions that clearly have a respect for the past but are not bound by it. Additionally, the compositions are representative of our time and have that inherent character of courage and risk taking that seems to be inclusive of the work of visionaries regardless of the art form. The music is assessable but at the same time, it pushes the boundaries into new territories within its own creative spirit. It is a genius that cannot be taught and one that I believe is shared by not just Bowie but all the members of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago
Art Ensemble Of Chicago
Art Ensemble Of Chicago

band/orchestra
of which he was a part.

Brass Ecstasy includes players of major talent and voices and for me, was the high point of the festival. Every player ripped into their solos with majestic authority and power and turned the event into a festival all in itself. As impressive as the latest CD, Spirit Moves might be, it doesn't do justice to the actual spirit that comes roaring off the stage from these magnificent players. Luis Bonilla

Luis Bonilla
Luis Bonilla

trombone
was a blur of epic proportions taking the trombone through the history of jazz at lightning speed while on tuba; Marcus Rojas continues to develop new possibilities in tone and color while never diminishing his power with his instrument. Vincent Chancey, like Bonilla is a former member of Lester Bowie's original Brass Fantasy but also spent time with the great visionary, Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
. I was completely moved by his patience and sense of freedom in allowing the sound to grow and mature within the setting of the hall. Complete all-embracing intelligence realized through emotion and sound.

Frode Haltli

It's also worth noting the song selection in this set as it swung from Otis Redding

Otis Redding
Otis Redding
1941 - 1967
vocalist
's, "Mr. Pitiful" to Hank Williams, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." I'm not sure there is another drummer other than Nasheet Waits
Nasheet Waits
Nasheet Waits
b.1971
drums
who could seamlessly reinvent himself stylistically and rhythmically tune after tune. What a force. Then there is Dave Douglas, the leader, innovator and creative architect who never ceases to surprise whether pushing through new territories or reinventing approaches to creative universes previously traveled.



This was a festival that will be long remembered and it's important to note that the time frame of the festival was with respect to February being Black History month. Without those previous innovators along with the spirit of African American culture, we wouldn't have festivals such as this to enjoy and appreciate. A sincere thanks should go to all those that made the Portland Jazz Festival such a great success!

Photo Credits

Jordy Freed, Courtesy of DL Media



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