Masters of jazz and more
by Brett Campbell
|Piety Street Band
John Scofield has always brought rhythmic punch to the party. As his collaborations with partners as diverse as Miles Davis, fellow guitar genius Pat Metheny and even Medeski Martin and Wood demonstrate, the jazz master refused to settle for long into a single groove. His new jazz/funk project, the Piety Street Band, which performs at the Shedd on April 8, enlists sidemen better known in the rock and R&B worlds: the legendary bassist from New Orleans funk pioneers the Meters, George Porter Jr., Jon Cleary (keyboard player for Bonnie Raitt) and former Beach Boys drummer Ricky Fataar. They range beyond standard blues forms and look as well to the gospel sounds of Thomas Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson. It should add up to a funky fusion built up from several generations and strains of American music.
On April 15, the Shedd hosts another modern jazz great. Joshua Redman garnered plenty of attention when he bounded on the scene in the early 1990s, propelled by a famous pedigree, an engaging personality and a melodic tenor sax style that drew plenty of listeners from beyond the narrow jazz audience. He’s continued to evolve but maintains his mainstream jazz appeal, especially in this hard blowing trio setting, featuring drummer Gregory Hutchinson and bassist Reuben Rogers.
There’s plenty of local jazz on tap this month, too. This Thursday, April 2, Sound for the Organization of Society brings its rich, sometimes raucous sound to Cozmic Pizza. The collective improv approach of aggregations like the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Weather Report echoes through the septet’s music, and its members’ diverse backgrounds (they live across the U.S., including a couple in Portland, and have studied with mentors as diverse as Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith and Darrell Grant) add up to a wide range of material that embraces contemporary postclassical, various jazz fusions and more. Definitely a show for listeners who like their jazz adventurous.
While young SFOS members like ambitious young pianist Andrew Oliver are energizing the Portland scene, there’s plenty of exciting creative jazz bubbling up from Eugene these days. On April 10th, Hashem Assadullahi and his Quintet play a release party at Jo Federigo’s marking their splendid new CD, Strange Neighbor, whose 10 original compositions span a variety of tempos, moods and colors, and display a spacious, probing compositional approach that invites listeners in rather than overwhelming them with virtuoso moves. Just returned from teaching jazz in Bangkok, Assadullahi also appears with his old band, the Detrick/Swigart Jazz Orchestra, which features the compositions of its two UO alumni directors, on April 14 at Cozmic Pizza. It’s such a pleasure to see so much young, creative jazz talent emerging from Oregon.
Former Oregonians Taarka return to Cozmic Pizza on April 4. If you haven’t seen them in a while, you might be pleasantly surprised by the latest turns — toward folk, bluegrass and song forms — the ever-evolving Colorado based band gypsy chamber folk quintet has taken.
Another exciting young ensemble appears at the UO’s Agate Hall Auditorium on April 2. The members of the flute, cello and bass trio Project have appeared as soloists with various orchestras. Beatbox flutist Greg Pattillo has won thousands of listeners via some amazing YouTube videos, while bassist Peter Seymour won a Downbeat award for best jazz soloist. Their dynamic stage manner more resembles a rock band — Jethro Tull meets Charles Mingus — than a jazz or classical trio. Project’s blend of jazz, hip hop, world music and classical influences is a promising vision of a future of music that’s truly beyond category.
The UO also hosts an April 3 concert at the EMU Ballroom benefiting Tariro (which funds the education of AIDS-affected girls in Zimbabwe) and featuring Dance Africa, Vakasara Mbira, Hokoyo Marimba and Portland’s Boka Marimba. It’s stirring, danceable music for a worthy cause.
On April 2, the Shedd showcases one of Oregon’s top classical music stars, clarinetist Michael Anderson, who, with pianist David Riley and cellist Jesús Morales, plays some of Johannes Brahms’s greatest chamber works. On April 7, the Shedd brings back ukulele phenom Jake Shimabukuro, who continues to prove that the supposedly simple instrument is no barrier to musical creativity or audience appeal. He’s a delight in concert, and you know he’ll play his celebrated cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” And on April 9, the Shedd hosts the folky slack key songs of his fellow Hawaiians, Hapa.
Finally, classical fans have a pair of fine choices this weekend. On April 4 (at Springfield’s Wildish Theater) and April 5 (at Eugene’s Central Lutheran Church), the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble jettisons all those distracting instruments and sings a wide ranging program of music from Russia, French Canada, Italy and Portland-born composer Morten Lauridsen’s impending classic “O Magnum Mysterium,” whose soothing beauty has won thousands of new fans for contemporary choral music. And on April 6, the Oregon Mozart Players haul out the treats for their always delicious Chamber Music and Chocolate show, this time at Cottage Grove’s Cottage Theatre. The program features Mozart’s tasty Oboe Quartet and a string duo, plus music by Dotzauer, Breval and OMP’s own cellist Dale Bradley.