Five JazzFest Favorites
As Portland Jazz Festival continues this week, we call out a few of the many can’t-miss talents.
DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER
Feb 23, 7pm at Newmark To Billie with Love: A Celebration of Lady Day Note: Rush tix available day-of-show.
In this powerhouse performance, Dee Dee Bridgewater previews a Billie Holiday piece she may perform, and demonstrates so much of her mastery in one fell swoop! Using the instrumental intro to get into character, she mimes sultry streetwalker moves at the audience, bringing a theatrical presence to the subject matter before ever singing a single note. Midway through, she unleashes some percussive, rapid-fire scatting that—_sha’mon_—would almost seem at home in a Michael Jackson tune. And nearing the end, she crescendos into full-on gospel fervor, displaying her pipes’ maximum power before subsiding to a coy close. Throughout this gamut of variation, her tone stays wise, world-worn, and bittersweet—because, like the character portrayed in this song, jazz was not born yesterday, baby.
DAVE FRISHBERG AND REBECCA KILGORE
Feb 23, 9:30pm at Art Bar
“But wait,” you may say. “That’s not Dave Frishberg, it’s Rosemary Clooney of White Christmas and George-Clooney’s-Aunt fame.” Right you are—but listen to her heartfelt shout-out to this local jazz great. Despite penning several hits and collaborating with many legendary singers including Clooney, Blossom Dearie and more, Frishberg plays his fame pretty low-key. In outtakes from a PM interview last year, he expressed a preference for being a “side man,” and a reverent respect for his current collaborating grande dame, Rebecca Kilgore. Sample her singing style below, and if you want to see her and Frishberg together, they’ll appear at the Art Bar for FREE.
Feb 24, 9:30pm, Crystal Ballroom For Portland Only: the Music of John Lennon, Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant
Portland guitarist Bill Frisell obviously has a varied program planned, not the least of which is a tribute to John Lennon that you can preview below. Meditate on the way this contemplative, simple, slow exploration gradually expands into ornately gorgeous complexity. A top recommendation of fest organizer Don Lucoff, this program promises to reward Frisell’s longstanding fans—and recruit new ones.
Feb 24, 9:30pm, Art Bar
Relatively fresh local faces Trio Subtonic recorded their first album “The Aqueous” in 2007, following it with “Cave Dweller” in 2009. Their 2012 album, “I’ll Meet You There Tomorrow” has a good-natured syncopated sway and catchy melodic hooks that recall to our ears some of the more ambient Peanuts soundtrack selections by Vince Guaraldi. Accessible? Yes. And all the better for it.
VIJAY IYER, PRASANNA, AND NITTIN MITTA
Feb 24, 5pm, Art Bar
Feb 25, 3pm, Crystal Ballroom Tirtha
There’s perhaps no modern percussion instrument more Western in origin than the piano, hearkening to gold-filigreed harpsichords lightly dusted in their baroque masters’ wig powder. The tabla, meanwhile, is so quintessentially Eastern, a single echoey strike is a universally-understood salute to the spice lands. Although almost everything in jazz has long since been tried, this instrumental combo, gelled by guitar and left in the highly capable hands of these ethnically Indian jazz masters, still feels novel and new. No wonder KMHD’s Matt Fleeger makes this trio one of his top picks and cites it as an example of new world-beat trends.