It often feels like the fate of Portland jazz hangs in the balance.
Even though PDX Jazz reliably pumps big names into the city year round and during its festival each winter, venues are constantly in flux. When Jimmy Mak's closed in 2016, the scene lost its epicenter, and fans acted as if it were the final nail in the coffin of local jazz. Jack London Revue has emerged as a worthy successor, but each year, it still seems like the scene loses at least one major hub. Recently, Solae's closed after a few glorious years of shows on Northeast Alberta Street.
The geography of Portland jazz is constantly shifting, but it's always there—you just have to know where to look. Every night, you can catch intimate sets from nationally renowned local musicians, usually for only a few bucks. Here's where you can see Portland jazz each night of the week.
Sunday: Ron Steen Jazz Jam at Clyde's Prime Rib
Ron Steen is known as the "Godfather of Jazz Jams" around here for good reason—he's led the weekly jam at Clyde's for well over a decade. Each Sunday, he's joined by a group of musicians who play whatever comes naturally to them, though that usually includes some beloved standards. The red velvet dungeon aesthetic of Clyde's adds to the old-school atmosphere, and if you've got enough chops, you may even get to hop in on some vocals. CERVANTÉ POPE. 5474 NE Sandy Blvd., clydesprimerib.com. 8:30 pm. Free.
Monday: Dan Balmer & Friends at Jo's Bar & Rotisserie
If you're into that classic, New York club kind of vibe, catching local jazz guitar mainstay Dan Balmer at Jo's Bar will surely be your thing. The venue exudes old-school romance—most tables are set for two, the lights are kept low, and Balmer leads an upright bassist and drummer through a premium live soundtrack. Balmer hits his notes with the utmost passion, often playing with his eyes closed. It's the ideal mood for a date night, and Balmer will make you want to become a jazz musician yourself. CP. 715 NW 23rd Ave., jobarpdx.net. 7 pm. Free.
Tuesday: The 1905
Though it was initially intended to be a pizzeria, the 1905 has somewhat accidentally become one of Portland's best jazz venues, hosting top-notch shows every single night. Tuesdays mark a lull in the week for recurring showcases, which makes it an ideal day to expand your jazz horizons. The 1905 is perfect for just that—pretty much anything at the swank, Mississippi District spot is worth seeing, and the cover charge is usually in the single digits. The intimate, candlelit club has $10 craft cocktails, crispy pizza and attentive audiences with a relatively wide age range. On a recent Tuesday night, legendary local saxophone player Rich Halley led his quartet through a frenetic, mind-blowing set, and the upcoming schedule ranges from the glitchy fusion of MPEG to funk-influenced, all-women quartet the Quadraphonnes. SHANNON GORMLEY. 830 N Shaver St., the1905.org. 8 pm. $5-$7.
Wednesday: Mainline Jazz at Teutonic
Teutonic's jazz nights aren't just a tactic for drawing in crowds to the winery—in fact, the audience is usually just a handful of devotees. They exist purely because owners Olga and Barnaby Tuttle are fans of the genre and decided to host local ensembles two nights a week in the urban winery's barrel-lined, string light-lit tasting room. Wednesday's Mainline Jazz series features locals favorites playing relaxed sets, often backed by series curator Alan Jones on drums. Unfortunately, the winery takes a break from concerts from mid-September to late November to focus on the harvest season. But it's worth catching as many of Teutonic shows as you can until then—the pop-up venue is clearly a labor of love and offers the homiest jazz shows in the city. SG. 3303 SE 20th Ave., teutonicwines.com. 7:30 pm. $5.
Thursday: Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group
There is perhaps no name more synonymous with Portland jazz than that of legendary drummer Mel Brown. Over the course of his five-decade career, Brown has played with the likes of the Temptations and Diana Ross, and with his all-star, B-3 organ group for more than 20 years. You can catch the quartet every Thursday at the Jack London Revue, an intimate, subterranean setting that feels like a speakeasy. It's the perfect atmosphere for some truly great jazz. DONOVAN FARLEY. 529 SW 4th Ave., jacklondonrevue.com. 8 pm. $10.
Friday: Face of Jazz to Come at Teutonic
Fridays at Teutonic breathe some fresh air into Portland jazz by providing a weekly showcase for younger, up-and-coming ensembles. It also feels like one of the scene's best-kept secrets. Typically, the audience is composed almost entirely of fans who personally know the band, which leads to refreshingly loose sets. Post-bop trumpet player Noah Simpson's quartet, which plays every first Friday of the month, is especially worth seeing, as is bebop-influenced saxophone player Nicole McCabe, who you can catch every second Friday. SG. 3303 SE 20th Ave., teutonicwines.com. 7:30 pm. $5.
Saturday: The 1905's late-night set
The 1905 is probably the only venue in Portland where you can see three jazz shows in one day. The club frequently hosts two shows on weekend nights, and if it's the first Saturday of the month, you can also hear mononymous jazz vocalist Anandi while you nosh on pancakes at brunch. But if you have adventurous taste, the venue's late-night Saturday shows are your best bet—it's when the venue typically books its most contemporary and offbeat acts, from neo-soul-influenced sounds to truly wild free jazz. SG. 830 N Shaver St., the1905.org. 9 pm. $7-$10.