By Bob Hicks
Hard to believe, but here it is late September and already Portland’s fall arts season is in full swing. Somehow things snuck up on Mr. Scatter (he knows he should say “sneaked up,” except he prefers the ancient and slightly disreputable “snuck”), and now he must do some serious catching up.
Some cool-looking things he sees on the near horizon:
TAIKO UNLEASHED and ROMP STOMP BOOM! A little bit of modern-music history storms the Newmark Theatre stage Saturday and Sunday when Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and San Francisco Taiko Dojo join Portland Taiko for PT’s fall concerts. In American taiko circles, this is a little like having Scott Joplin, W.C. Handy and Jelly Roll Morton dropping by a modern jazz club for a jam: just how cool can these original stick-swinging cats be?
In a sense, Tanaka is the father of North American taiko (the contemporary, ensemble approach to the ancient Japanese drumming traces only to 1959 in Japan), and over the years since the young postwar immigrant founded it in 1968, San Francisco Taiko Dojo has gained near-legendary status. Stylistically and inspirationally, Tanaka and his group have been key players in the extraordinary spread of modern taiko across North America.
The players of Portland Taiko, one of America’s handful of professional ensembles, are no slouches, either. (Mr. Scatter likes Portland Taiko so much, he’s on its board.) Wear your raincoats: this could be a tsunami of sound. 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3; shorter family matinee Romp Stomp Boom! at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.
NEW NOW WOW! No, it’s not the latest ad campaign for a ramped-up household detergent.
It’s the newest concert by the fresh young Northwest Dance Project, Sarah Slipper’s small, classically trained but contemporary-minded Portland company that specializes in new work by international choreographers. Not all of the dances work all of the time — most are created in the studio on these dancers, and a certain experimentation is encouraged — but you never know when lightning’s going to strike.
This time around, the choreographers are New Yorker Loni Landon, Portugal’s Andre Mesquita, London-born Ihsan Rustem and Belgian Olivier Wevers. Mr. Scatter is especially curious to see how Wevers, for several years an outstanding dancer with Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet and recently also leader of his own company, Whim W’Him, is handling the transition to choreography.
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University.
LEE KELLY RETROSPECTIVE Sometimes in their quests to think globally and historically, museums forget to look at what’s right under their noses. Happily, the Portland Art Museum isn’t making that mistake with sculptor Kelly, who’s been around Portland since the days when the Columbia River ran free. Kelly, born in 1932 in McCall, Idaho, is a westerner with an eye to the East — he’s spent a lot of time in Nepal, and some of his work reflects it — and after more than half a century he remains an active and significant figure in the story of Pacific Northwest art.
The museum’s retrospective, organized by chief curator Bruce Guenther, opens Saturday, Oct. 2, and continues through Jan. 9. It contains about 60 sculptures, paintings, and works on paper, and it should be fascinating to see several decades’ worth of work in one time and place.
LA LUNA NUEVA Milagro Theatre‘s second annual Festival of Hispanic Arts & Culture enters the home stretch with three more attractions through Saturday. So far, the festival’s been a hit: Mr. Scatter filed this report for The Oregonian on the dance and music troupe Aliole‘s Flamenco Agridulce.
Winding things up:
- Encounters (Encuentros) Poet Cindy Williams Gutierrez is joined by guitarist and Aztec instrumentalist Gerardo Calderon, writer/storyteller (and Friend of Scatter) Lynn Darroch, and the wonderful guitarist Alfredo Muro, plus cellist Kendra Carpenter and didgeridoo player Coral Barry. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.
- La Habana Jazz Cuban-style jazz with Jessie Marquez, plus guests Upper Left Trio and Idit Shner. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.
- Travesuras (Pranks) An evening of “fusion flamenco” winds up the festival. Guitarist Ricardo Diaz takes the lead, joined by Cristo Cortes, Vicente Griego and Antonio Arrebolo. Advance word is very good on this one. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.
PHOTOS, from top:
- Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo
- Olivier Wevers, dancer and choreographer
- Lee Kelly, “Beetle,” 1959, metal, Bequest of Francis J. Newton, Â© Lee Kelly