A great deal of contemporary mainstream jazz, generally speaking, is risk free. Most jazz festivals in America play it safe, sticking with a successful and predictable stable of artists who rarely take the music beyond its resting place in history.
The fifth annual Portland Jazz Festival, presented by Qwest & The Oregonian A&E, set for February 15-24, dares to go where few jazz festivals in North America have ever been -- moving ever forward. Indeed, any jazz event which opens with free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman and later closes with avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor, is admittedly ‘out there.' But, along with the likes of Parker, Coltrane, Rollins, Monk, Mingus and Miles, these were the players who kept pushing jazz foward; more afraid of standing still perhaps than spinning off the road out of control.
Yet even with the emphasis on the cutting edge art, the 2008 Portland Jazz Festival remains an diverse experience -- a kaleidoscope of sounds and colors going every which way.
When one adds during this 10-day event the names of Joshua Redman, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Maceo Parker, Tord Gustavsen, Nik Bartsch’s Ronin, Jillian Lebeck, Avishai Cohen, Rob Scheps, Glen Moore, Myra Melford, Tim Berne, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Stefon Harris, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Bill Charlap, Nancy King, Fred Hersch, The Bad Plus, Portland Jazz Orchestra, Miguel Zenon, Renee Rosnes, Eric Harland, and the Oregon Symphony,
you’ve got the ingredients for a spicy, yet delicious jazz stew that should please the tastes of just about everybody who claims to be a jazz aficianado.
The rest of the release, which elaborates on the festival's lineup as well as jazz education and outreach programs, can be found here.