Jazz Diva 

Portland jazz celeb set to perform in Eugene

The last time The Jazz Station presented legendary Portland jazz singer Nancy King four years ago, the show quickly sold out. And no wonder. 

Popular in Eugene since her University of Oregon days in the mid 1960s with bandmates Glen Moore and Ralph Towner, who went on to found the immortal band Oregon, the Oregon Music Hall of Famer and officially designated Portland Jazz Master is not only one of the greatest musicians to come out of our state — she’s simply one of the world’s finest singers of any kind.

King is to jazz singing what John Coltrane was to jazz saxophone. “Nancy King is a marvel of perfect pitch, phrasing, dynamics, inventiveness and honest emotion,” veteran jazz journalist Doug Ramsey told me when I profiled King some years ago.

Any fan of jazz, the human voice and/or Oregon music is advised to score tickets to her Saturday, Oct. 19, Jazz Station concert with her excellent longtime pianist Steve Christofferson.

On Oct. 25, The Jazz Station also hosts Eugene music master Steve Owen’s band with Portland jazz stalwarts Greg Goebel on piano, drummer Jason Palmer and bassist Tyler Abbott. It’ll be a rare chance to hear the big band master’s music for small combo.

And, on Oct. 24, the Station brings a pianist, Scott Cossu, long identified with so-called New Age music thanks to his early involvement with the Windham Hill record label. Cossu also plays jazz, and his set with guitarist Giles Arendt will include both Cossu originals and jazz standards.

Violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Allison Miller appear on a startling number of albums, including recordings by Bill Frisell, Brian Blade, Nels Cline, Brandi Carlile, Jason Moran, Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, Norah Jones and many more.

They’ve also played in each other’s bands and recently released the culmination of their collaborations so far: the lusciously laid-back album Parlour Game, easily one of the best jazz albums I’ve heard all year. On Oct. 23 at The Shedd, the pair will play that music (which draws on folk, swing, go-go and other influences) with pianist Carmen Staaf and bassist Tony Scherr.  

That alone would be worth the price, but the concert also includes another of their longtime collaborators, a northern California native who earned a big reputation on the east coast before returning to the west coast — right here in Eugene.

The superb bassist/composer Todd Sickafoose, whose name appears on a plethora of fine albums as producer and player, is a mainstay of Miller’s ace band Boom Tic Boom and of Scheinman’s bands in San Francisco and New York. He’s also the Tony Award-winning orchestrator and music producer of Anais Mitchell’s current Broadway hit Hadestown.

And he scored a prestigious commission from Chamber Music America for sophisticated octet called “Bear Proof” — which his all-star band Tiny Resistors (which includes Scheinman and Miller) will perform, too. It’s an irresistible double bill for chamber jazz fans.

Speaking of parlor jazz, on Friday, Oct. 18, the estimable Broadway House series features another Portland-based UO grad, guitarist Jack Radsliff with his organ trio Fundamental. It includes nationally acclaimed Portland keyboardist George Colligan (who also pays drums, trumpet and more) and drummer Jason Palmer. Reserve seats for the intimate potluck show at pbodin@uoregon.edu. 

The Eugene Symphony’s concert on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Hult Center features Mahler’s popular first symphony, a new work by ESO composer in residence Matt Browne (“Barnstorming Season”) and a different Mendelssohn concerto than we usually hear: his sparkling one for two pianos, performed by twin sisters Michelle and Christina Naughton.

That makes the London Haydn Quartet’s Oct. 27 performance of music by their namesake, Beethoven, and Weber at the UO’s Beall Hall with the great period instrument clarinetist Eric Hoeprich a welcome rarity.

On Sunday, Oct. 20, at Central Lutheran Church, Central Chamber Orchestra plays a couple of J.S. Bach’s most popular creations: his delightful “Coffee” cantata and double violin concerto.

Finally, on Oct. 26 at Emmaus Lutheran Church, Portland’s Ping and Woof Opera Company performs Ruggero Leoncavallo’s ever-popular opera about the tears of a clown, Pagliacci. ν

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