We wanted a Sugar Daddy and we got one! The Portland Jazz Festival has been rescued from oblivion — heroes include Nick Fish, Sho Dozono and Alaska Airlines, among others — which we learned from Luciana Lopez’s story in The Oregonian this morning (we’ll link you up when the story is posted on OregonLive, UPDATE: and is now.), and I’m not sure why exactly I’m feeling so pleased about it. After all, festivals wax, festivals wane, festivals disappear altogether. Even jazz festivals in Portland. These days, the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival continues to roll along under the St. John’s Bridge, fueled mostly by our local players. And the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, which itself went into eclipse for a while, is back and seems to be growing again, returning this past summer to Mt. Hood Community College, where it once dominated the summer festival scene. Of course, either you know this or jazz festivals don’t interest you, so I’m not sure why I feel called to speak of it. Maybe just as a sort of accounting.
But the Portland Jazz Festival has had major aspirations (some would call them pretensions, I suppose), specifically to bring top-of-the-line international musicians to the city. And I appreciate the impulse. Plus, it comes in February. In February, we’re needing all the inspiration we can get, any good reason to get out of the house, fellow fans of the improvisatory art to consort with. In February we’ll pay almost any price for a lively brain, and the jazz festival has encouraged our synapses to snap their fingers and bop along. The city should fund the whole thing just for the overall improvement in the mental health of the citizenry. Call it jazz therapy.
So, I’m excited about the 2009 festival, which will celebrate Blue Note Records, more excited than I should be, I suppose. After all, there are lots of clubs in town now that feature jazz, and we have lots of terrific musicians, legends even. You could assemble a little mini-festival every week of the year. And really, there’s nothing quite like following the development of a fine jazz mind over time, something that’s possible only with a local jazz mind. Still. I like the concentration of talent. I like watching recordings come to life. I like the idea that for a little while, all jazz ears are cocked toward Portland. I like to feel as though I’m playing with the Big Boys and the Big Boys (and Girls) are playing for me. So yeah, I’m happy about it, and if I could order tickets right now, I suppose I would.
Thanks to Mighty Toy Cannon, one of the forces behind Culture Shock, for a heads up on this, too. MTC may well have had Portland blog priority on the “scoop,” though I first learned about it from Luciana.