As far as we’re concerned, life’s not complete without live jazz. Not only is this year’s PDX Jazz Festival a celebratory return to all in-person shows, but the lineup is a contender for the best, most vital we’ve seen. Find a day-by-day breakdown of our most recommended shows below, and view the full schedule at PDX Jazz’s website.
*Please note that all festival events will be requiring proof of COVID vaccination and booster shots, as well as mask-wearing at all times.
Thursday, Feb. 17
The inaugural PDX Jazz Festival “First Call” showcase features acclaimed Portland jazz musicians. After 25 years of calling Portland home, pianist, teacher, mentor, activist, composer Darrell Grant offers a rare solo performance inspired by the founders of our city’s jazz scene. Acclaimed vocalist Rebecca Kilgore joins Darrell for the second set to remember the great Dave Frishberg. Both Darrell and Rebecca are PDX Jazz Master award recipients.
Friday, Feb. 18
Carlos Niño refers to himself musically, and in many aspects of his life, as a “communicator.” He considers his “presence, aura, energy ﬁeld” his voice, and many collected instruments (a unique and colorful assortment of bells, chimes, cymbals, gongs, keyboards, shakers, shells, and more) among his essence. He describes his “& Friends” sound as “a spiritual, improvisational space collage.”
Saturday, Feb. 19
Gary Bartz’s inﬂuence can be felt all across modern music, from bebop to jazz-funk to hip-hop, while his resolute stance on social justice remains as ﬁery as ever. Starting in the ‘60s working with the likes of Eric Dolphy, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, or Miles Davis himself, on to most recently as a leader on the Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Mohammed’s “Jazz is Dead” series, Bartz remains a cutting edge ﬁgure even entering the seventh decade of his career.
Makaya McCraven, a beat scientist, bleeding edge drummer, producer, and sonic collagist, is one of Chicago’s savviest cultural players and a multi-talented force whose inventive process & intuitive, cinematic style defy categorization. With his new remix album “Deciphering The Message,” he digs through the vaults of the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records to put a modern bounce on classics by Art Blakey, Horace Silver and more.
MNDSGN, aka Ringgo Ancheta, is one of SoCal’s top up-and-coming producers, having put out three records on the acclaimed Stones Throw Label. From early on, Ringgo has aimed to explore the human condition in his music. Taken as a whole, his body of work chronicles the evolution of self, asking throughout: How can we live in a way that is true to ourselves? How can we ﬁnd beauty in the everyday and unfamiliar?
Omari Jazz is a producer, composer and visual artist currently based in Portland, Oregon. Best known for his debut record “Dream Child,” he reaches for a sound somewhere between familiar and science ﬁction.
Sunday, Feb. 20
Flor de Toloache, the Latin Grammy-winning, New York-based ensemble is one of the ﬁnest all-female mariachi groups on the planet. The group began as a trio named for the delirium-inducing Mexican ﬂower used as a love potion for generations. As it has grown in notoriety, the band has expanded to as many as ten members depending on the setting, forming a truly global ensemble with musicians hailing from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy, and the United States.
Monday, Feb. 21
From his beginnings as one of Chicago’s most thrilling young trumpeters to his current status as an internationally renowned musician, composer and bandleader, Marquis Hill has worked tirelessly to break down the barriers that divide musical genres. Contemporary and classic jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Chicago house, neo-soul—to Hill, they’re all essential elements of the profound African-American creative heritage he’s a part of.
Tuesday, Feb. 22
The music of saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins is ﬁlled with empathy and conviction, bonding arcs of melody and lamentation to pluming gestures of space and breath. Listeners were introduced to this riveting sound with his acclaimed debut album “Omega,” which was named the #1 Jazz Album of 2020 by The New York Times.
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Harpist, composer, educator, and concert curator Brandee Younger - known for her work with Ravi Coltrane, Moses Sumney & Lauryn Hill - has brought the harp into the 21st century. Bassist, composer, bandleader, educator and 2019 DownBeat Magazine Rising Star Dezron Douglas has established himself as a major force in contemporary creative music.
Sasha Berliner is a musician, composer, producer, and band leader from San Francisco now based in New York. Her debut alternative jazz album “Azalea” was featured by Jazz at Lincoln Center, and in 2020, she was the DownBeat Critics’ Rising Star Poll winner in the vibraphone category. She was both the ﬁrst woman, and at 21, the youngest individual in the poll’s history to be granted the win.
Thursday, Feb. 24
Chief Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is a two-time Edison Award-winning and ﬁve-time Grammy-nominated musician, composer and producer. As part of the New Orleans Big Chief lineage, his holistic vision of music and education encompasses the generations that came before him and the generations he’s inspiring today.
Born in Ghana and raised in East St. Louis with deep roots in New Orleans, Weedie Braimah descends from a long lineage of drummers and composers and ushers listeners through a rhythmic journey of Africa and the diaspora. Widely regarded as the premiere voice of the djembe, he records and tours with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Baaba Maal, Trombone Shorty and also leads his own band, Weedie Braimah & The Hands of Time.
John Carroll Kirby, an LA-based pianist, producer and composer with an ear for New Age and ambient-inspired jazz, has released six LPs on top of being highly in-demand as a collaborator with the likes of as Solange, Frank Ocean & Norah Jones.
Friday, Feb. 25
Local prodigy Domo Branch comes back from his ongoing New York City take-over (backing such luminaries as Wynton Marsalis & Diane Reeves) for a special homecoming debut of his trio, featuring top NYC players pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist Ben Feldman.
Angel Bat Dawid is a Black American composer, improviser, clarinetist, pianist, vocalist, educator & DJ. Her critically acclaimed album " The Oracle”, released by Chicago label International Anthem, was recorded using only her cell phone in various locations and has garnered deserved comparisons to Nina Simone and Sun Ra.
Keyboardist and beat maker Andre Burgos and singer, songwriter Vaughn Kimmons explore the soundscapes of the post-soul movement as Brown Calculus. A Gemini duo, they illuminate the sacredness of Black music with a cosmic sound that still somehow remains grounded, embodying the intergalactic values of jazz and unity.
The Soul Rebels started with an idea: to expand upon the pop music they loved on the radio and the New Orleans brass tradition they grew up on. They took that tradition and blended funk and soul with elements of hip-hop, jazz and rock, all within a brass band context. The band has built a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in a deep pocket funk party atmosphere.
One of the foremost faces of the current progressive jazz movement, 2x GRAMMY-nominated composer & producer Nate Smith has become one of the most sought after drummers in the world today, backing the likes of Brittany Howard, Pat Metheny, Ravi Coltrane and more. Now through his own project KINFOLK, a powerful take on Black American music, Smith is set to become a star in his own right.
Saturday, Feb. 26
Robert Glasper is the leader of a new sonic paradigm, with a career that bridges musical and artistic genres and generations. A multiple Grammy & Emmy winner for his music, he’s also an award-winning ﬁlm composer and producer, collaborating with some of the most important artists of our time - from Kendrick Lamar & Stevie Wonder to Ava Duvernay & Dave Chappelle. His “Black Radio” album series has been monumental in shaping the direction of jazz to come, and PDX Jazz is honored to have him present a preview of the third volume of the project at this year’s festival.
greaterkind was formed in Portland, OR by friends on a mission to spread love and inclusivity through the medium of music. Channeling elements of jazz fusion and funk with undertones of R&B, gospel and hip-hop, greaterkind sets out to do something new. A product of playing together in numerous live situations, the music is rooted in improvisation. Space and creation are key to the process. Since their conception, greaterkind has enjoyed the opportunity to back internationally acclaimed artists such as The Hamiltones, Judith Hill and Brian Jackson. The band includes Charlie Brown (keyboards), Ian Michael Lindsay (bass/vocals), Cory Limuaco (drums), and Peter Knudsen (guitar/vocals).