Tag Archives: Doug Ramsey

Wanted: Portland Jazz Festival sugar daddy

We’ve added a couple of updates below, as jazz bloggers around the country start to weigh in on the collapse of the Portland Jazz Festival.

Today’s paradox: Portland has a small and by some measures thriving jazz scene; and Portland can’t keep a national-class jazz festival going to save its buttons. Today’s announcement — that the Portland Jazz Festival will “cease operations” next week unless a sponsoring sugar daddy is found who will take a $100,000 plunge — was one of those depressing pieces of news that reminds us just how fragile our arts bubble is. It’s hard for me to imagine this year without Ornette Coleman in it, and Ornette was here only because of the PJF. He came at just the right time for me, just as I was thinking seriously about the problem of creativity, and I loved his utter pragmatic dedication to sustaining his creative flow.

Jazz is one of the most frequently employed metaphors for creativity: the way it adapts and re-adapts, uses and reuses, improvises on the spot; the paradoxes it supports in the ordinary course of business, like its insistence on being in the moment and above the moment at the same time; its recognizable collision of technique, inspiration, individual play and teamwork; and well, we could go on. And maybe on that ground alone, as a metaphor, never mind the music and its place in our cultural history, I would argue for the PJF. We are beginning to understand how critical imagination and its practical application are to everything we do, especially in a city like Portland, which must live by its wits, not by its oil fields; jazz allows us to think about that in an especially delightful way. Somebody in Portland designed a better boot after hearing Ornette, I’m sure of it!
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