Grasshoppers 2017: PJCE plays music by students and mentors

Info via PJCE:

Celebrated Jazz Composers Usher In New Generation

The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (PJCE) has increased its creative output and influence in recent years with a focused artistic vision and involvement in the community. This focused ethos spawned last year’s outreach into the vaunted youth jazz movement.

The student composers, or “grasshoppers,”  involved in this ambitious project come from two Portland metro area high schools, and from Portland Community College. With their professional mentors — PSU Jazz professor emeritus Charley Gray, Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra Co-Director Michelle Medler, and Mt. Hood Community College jazz instructor Ryan Meagher — each student will compose a new piece for the PJCE’s 12-member jazz ensemble. All of these students have composed before, but not for a large professional ensemble, and the opportunity to do so represents a unique and monumental education opportunity. All of them participate free of charge.

About the mentors: Charley Gray was the director of the Portland State University jazz program for decades where he lead the jazz ensemble and taught composition and arranging techniques to several outstanding students, some of whom went on to found the PJCE. The mark Gray has left on the Portland jazz scene is indelible and the PJCE is proud to have him involved with its program to help develop the scene for new, exciting music.

The Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra (PYJO) has been one of the many vibrant organizations in Portland that has contributed to the abundance of strong, young players that the Rose City seems to churn out at will. It was founded in 2001 by Ben and Michelle Medler. Since its inception those two have shepherded in a number of musicians that have developed into unique voices that are heard far beyond our city limits. Michelle Medler directed the PYJO at last year’s Grasshoppers concert. This year she is mentoring one of her students from PYJO who is now composing in his college music program.

Another active participant in the fertile Portland jazz education landscape is guitarist, Ryan Meagher. He has been working diligently to nurture the next generation of Portland jazz musicians through his work with the PJCE, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony’s jazz program, PSU’s summer jazz workshop, and teaching jazz at both Mt. Hood Community College and Portland Community College. He and his grasshopper are exploring the idea of incorporating non-jazz influences like hip-hop and neo-soul into their pieces.

PJCE Personnel for the Performances: Lee Elderton, Bryan Smith, Joe Manis, Michelle Medler – saxophones; Thomas Barber, Douglas Detrick – trumpet; Becca Olason – horn in F; Joseph Jefferson – trombone; Ryan Meagher – guitar; Kerry Politzer – piano; Jon Shaw – bass; Ken Ollis  – drums


Video excerpt of Grasshoppers 2016:

Marjorie Prime

Info via Artists Repertory Theatre:

Northwest Premiere of MARJORIE PRIME, a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, by Jordan Harrison. Featuring Vana O’Brien, Chris Harder, Linda Alper and Michael Mendelson, MARJORIE PRIME runs through March 5 on the Alder Stage.

In this inquisitive new drama, a family grapples with the difference between a life lived and a life remembered as 85-year-old Marjorie struggles to keep hold of her memories and identity, gently assisted by an artificial version of her late husband, Walter. An exploration of aging, memory and technology, MARJORIE PRIME peers into what lies ahead and how our past is rewritten to face today.

“Harrison ambitiously explores themes as grand and challenging as our inevitable relationship to Artificial Intelligence technology, the ephemeral nature of memory and the stories we leave behind when we pass from life,” said Artists Rep Artistic Director Dámaso Rodríguez.

“What we see in this play is an idea of our current future,” wrote the play’s director Adriana Baer. “It is not purely science fiction – the inspiration for this play came from Jordan Harrison’s interaction with technology currently available. MARJORIE PRIME inspires audiences to consider our relationships with our devices – not in a negative, Luddite way, but in a curious, thoughtful way.”


Student Composers Showcase

Info via PJCE:

See Grasshoppers 2017 for more information.

The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (PJCE) has increased its creative output and influence in recent years with a focused artistic vision and involvement in the community. This focused ethos spawned last year’s outreach into the vaunted youth jazz movement.

The student composers, or “grasshoppers,”  involved in this ambitious project come from two Portland metro area high schools, and from Portland Community College. With their professional mentors— PSU Jazz professor emeritus Charley Gray, Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra Co-Director Michelle Medler, and Mt. Hood Community College jazz instructor Ryan Meagher—each student will compose a new piece for the PJCE’s 12-member jazz ensemble. All of these students have composed before, but not for a large professional ensemble, and the opportunity to do so represents a unique and monumental education opportunity. All of them participate free of charge.

Original Mel Brown Septet

Info provided by PDX Jazz Festival

Jimmy Mak All Stars: Mel Brown’s Big Band feat. Jon Faddis

Portland Jazz Master, Mel Brown–who is preparing a premiere of his big band under the direction of Derek Sims, featuring Jon Faddis, in honor of Dizzy Gillespie’s Centennial on Wednesday, February 22 as part of the 2017 BIAMP PDX Jazz Festival–will open the program with an historic first set including members from his original Septet.

Brown has been an iconic fixture at Jimmy Mak’s since the club’s inception 20 years ago, and now he will recast his classic Septet as the Jimmy Mak All Stars including Warren Rand, Andre St. James, Gordon Lee, Tim Gilson, Renato Caranto and Derek Sims, and a possible guest appearance by Thara Memory. “Jimmy was the big brother that I never had,” remarked Brown. “He taught me about surviving in the music club business. And I am so grateful for his tutoring.”

For this auspicious occasion Brown further reflected, “I am looking forward to acknowledging the former members (Warren Rand, Andre St. James, and Thara Memory), for all their hard work to keep the Septet together. Thara may not be able to perform, but I want people to know about the founding members.”

The late Michael York performed with the band from 1986-91 and later in the ’90s, and was featured when the band won the 1989 Hennessey Jazz Search Competition and resulting in an appearance at the 1989 Playboy Jazz Festival.