Jazzing the House

House concerts and the lead up to the Oregon Bach Fest

With music institutions — especially those in less commercial genres — struggling musicians and fans have had to get social and entrepreneurial, increasingly relying on grassroots funding (through Indiegogo, Kickstarter and similar crowdsourcing sites) and informal venues. The Shedd is our biggest local example of music lovers creating their own outlets for the music they cherish, and fans run many venues like The Jazz Station. But Eugene resident Paul Bodin has shown that you don’t have to own or rent a formal performance space to provide a showcase for the music you treasure; for the past three years, the retired 4J teacher and his wife, Peggy, have produced a series of concerts in their West Eugene home at 911 W. Broadway.

The Broadway House (541-686-9270) series has usually included some of the finest young jazzers from the University of Oregon, several of whom have gone on to careers in New York, Chicago and elsewhere. Bodin met many of them when he was taking post-retirement music classes at the UO, where top jazz grad students like Toby Koenigsberg, Josh Deutsch, Douglas Detrick and others were teaching.

Such house concerts have a long history in jazz and even earlier (like the noncommercial 19th-century Germanic hausmusik tradition for invited guests only) and offer an unparalleled intimacy that can make them more memorable than arena or mega-concert hall experiences requiring binoculars and suspension of listeners’ standards of acoustic veracity.

“One of the charms of being in a house concert audience is the close proximity to the performers — sometimes just feet away — and the rich acoustics found in an older home with wood floors,” Bodin explains. “The intermission, with food and drink available in the kitchen, allows members of the audience to mingle with performers before the second set begins.” Audience members bring potluck food or beverages for intermission, and all admission proceeds go directly to the performers.

The third Broadway House series kicked off last week with a performance by flute students from the UO music school, and they resume next Sunday, June 2, with two Northwest jazz stalwarts: trombonist Dave Glenn and guitarist John Stowell, who’ll play original music and jazz standards. The series continues June 13 with UO master’s student Torrey Newhart’s Sextet playing music from Newhart’s new CD, Marmara. The summer season concludes July 20 with trumpeter Deutsch (now based in New York) leading a band of first-rate Oregon players including drummer Jason Palmer and Portland pianist Greg Goebel. Bodin has already begun booking fall shows, too, in what’s becoming a most valuable and unique part of the city’s music scene.

There’s more fine young jazz Friday, May 24, when Cherry Poppin’ Daddies saxman Joe Manis plays The Jazz Station with pianist Koenigsberg (who now teaches at the university) and drummer Randy Rollofson. All three jazzers, like most of those in the Broadway House series, are UO alums, and the school continues to bring great music to The Jazz Station (its spring jazz party there is May 31) and to Beall Hall on May 24, at its spring Big Band Concert.

There’s non-jazz music at Beall on May 30, when the University Symphony plays a West Coast premiere of a new piece by the excellent contemporary conductor Roberto Sierra and more. On May 31 and June 1, the UO Opera Ensemble stages modern adaptations of scenes from famous operas by Mozart and more. On June 2 at Beall, the Oregon Percussion Ensemble performs music of two of America’s greatest composers, John Cage and Steve Reich, plus the UO’s own percussion master Pius Cheung in the afternoon and the UO Gospel Singers follow that night.

In this ramp-up period to the beginning of the Oregon Bach Festival, you can get a foretaste of the magnificent sounds that preceded Europe’s greatest composer on May 26 at First United Methodist Church when the Cascade Consort, featuring splendid baritone Aaron Cain and UO music prof and tenor Eric Mentzel, plus Portland Baroque Orchestra cellist Joanna Blendulf on viols, David Rogers on lute and harpsichordist Julia Brown, plays music of earlier Baroque composers including Buxtehude, Schein, Holborne and more, including a rarity: English composer John Coprario’s 1606 elegy, Funeral Tears.