Jazz venues have come and gone over the years in Eugene, but we now seem to be enjoying a downtown jazz resurgence, thanks in part to the expanded Jazz Station’s more ambitious programming as well as the newish Broadway House concerts (at a home at 911 Broadway) bringing in attractive touring performers as well as serving the local community. On Friday, June 22, Broadway House hosts Seattle-based gypsy swing-jazzers Pearl Django. The group has undergone some turnover in the guitar department, but after 11 albums and 17 years of playing, this outfit still delivers swing in the ever-popular style pioneered in 1930s Paris by legendary guitarist Django Reindhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli.
The Jazz Station hosts Saturday, June 23, the excellent young Canadian-American band Tunnel Six. The members met at the celebrated Banff International Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music a few years ago, found that something clicked and, despite holding down careers as bandleaders themselves, decided to periodically reconvene for annual tours (this is the third) between their regular gigs. Tunnel Six is a true ensemble effort, including New York drummer Tyson Stubelek (pianist Andrew Oliver’s former Oregon colleague); Toronto saxophonist Ben Dietschi and guitarist Brian Seligman; Seattle trumpeter Chad McCullough; and Halifax bassist Ron J. Their striking summer 2010 performance at Portland’s Old Church revealed a straight-ahead contemporary jazz aesthetic with remarkable interplay and solid chemistry. And they’ve only grown since then.
The Jazz Station hosts Friday, June 29, the ebullient New York-based saxman Javon Jackson for two shows. A former frontman for the legendary jazz finishing school, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Jackson has a reputation for exploring the fertile territory between jazz, rock, soul and funk. But fear not, traditionalists, for lately Jackson has returned to acoustic jazz. And he’s bringing a quartet featuring veteran pianist Peter Boe (a long time member of Robert Cray’s band), San Francisco bassist Scott Steed and Portland drummer Todd Strait.
Of course, as we’ve noted elsewhere, Eugene’s biggest music event, the Oregon Bach Festival, opens next week. Besides big names like Joshua Bell and Storm Large with Pink Martini, the festival features an unusual arrangement of J.S. Bach’s magnificent solo keyboard epic for a string ensemble; more surprisingly, it’s being performed Monday, July 2, by our regional apostles of authenticity, the Portland Baroque Orchestra. Transcriptions were common in Bach’s time, and audiences can expect PBO to adhere to the tunings and styles of the period. Besides, keyboardists and singers get most of the fun in Bach’s music, so it’s hard to blame PBO artistic director and Baroque violinist extraordinaire Monica Huggett for craving more Bach for her instrument.