The departure of artistic director Bill Royston left some jazz aficionados wondering what the fate of the Portland Jazz Festival
would be. Yesterday's announcement of the headliners for the 2012 edition of the fest by new festival curator Don Lucoff should put their worries to rest. The 11-day event boasts a startlingly good lineup, and making the bold move of setting aside an overarching theme to the festival.
One of the biggest names on the docket is saxophonist Branford Marsalis. The former Sting sideman and Tonight Show bandleader will be performing on February 26th at the Newmark Theater with pianist Joey Calderazzo. The duo will be here in support of their recent album Songs of Mirth and Melancholy
. Another exciting prospect is an evening of songs associated with Billie Holiday as performed by acclaimed vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater happening on February 23rd at the Newmark.
And if you're in the market to see a true jazz icon, look no further than 86-year-old drummer Roy Haynes who leads his quartet through a set at the Newmark on February 24th. This is a man who has played with everybody
: Monk, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Coltrane, Archie Shepp, etc., etc. That is a can't miss performance.
Those shows will be fine, but this jazz fan is especially excited at the prospect of seeing guitarist Bill Frisell in a variety of guises during the festival. The Seattle native is playing two shows - the first on February 24th at the Crystal Ballroom, and the second on the following night at the Newmark - which will include his tribute to both John Lennon and pedal steel icon "Speedy" West as well as a solo set.
I don't think this is the complete lineup for the fest as I'm sure there will be plenty of other smaller events including our cornucopia of local jazz talent. But if the concert schedule below should be enough to get you all het up for the 2012 fest. Friday February 17, 7:30pm, Winningstad Theater - Thara MemorySaturday February 18, 7:30pm, Winningstad Theater - Enrico Rava's TribeSunday February 19, 7:00pm, Winningstad Theater - The Jazz PassengersTuesday February 21, 7:30pm, Mission Theater - Mardi Gras @ The MissionWednesday February 22, 7:30pm, Arlene Schnitzer Hall - Garth Fagan DanceThursday February 23, 7:00pm, Newmark Theatre - Dee Dee BridgewaterFriday February 24, 7:00pm, Newmark Theatre - Roy Haynes QuartetFriday February 24, 9:30pm, Crystal Ballroom - Bill Frisell - Tribute to John Lennon "Speedy" West and Jimmy BryantSaturday February 25, 3:00pm, Crystal Ballroom - Vijay Iyer, Prasanna, Nitin MittaSaturday February 25, 7:00pm, Newmark Theatre - Bill Frisell solo & the 858 QuartetSaturday February 25, 9:30pm, Crystal Ballroom - Charlie Hunter solo and the Portland Jam Band MarathonSunday February 26, 3:00, Newmark Theater - Branford Marsalis/Joey Calderazzo Duo