BIAMP Portland Jazz Festival: Celebrating 20 years


Ishmael Butler, Shabazz Palaces photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

February 16-25
Multiple Venues
Portland, OR
Schedule & Tickets


Ringing in two decades of jazz history, community, and innovation, the Biamp Portland Jazz Festival presents its largest festival yet with ten days of live performances, film screenings, and conversation. Reflecting on the festival’s 20th Anniversary, artistic director Nicholas Salas-Harris notes that PDX Jazz has the health of the surrounding jazz ecosystem to thank for the organization’s successes in passing jazz’s legacy down to up-and-coming musicians who are expanding Portland’s scene. Executive director Chris Doss adds, “We aim to educate music lovers with the full breadth of jazz, a musical artform that has permeated nearly every genre of American music, and whose lineage is carried into the future by young musicians who draw upon jazz in all its iterations.” Performances from local musicians speckle the lineup this year alongside contemporary jazz greats in a celebration to remember. 

The music kicks off on February 16th with Grammy Award-winning composer Bill Frisell, showcasing his latest studio album Four, where the quartet plunges into an explorative Americana-infused reflection on isolation and reconnection. On February 17th, Angélique Kidjo will reimagine the 1980 Talking Heads classic, Remain in Light. Playing off of the album’s Afrobeat inspiration, Kidjo intends to “bring rock back to Africa” to both recognize the music’s roots and to further infuse contemporary African sound into this iconic piece of rock history. That afternoon, Adriana Wagner, up and coming trombonist and recent graduate from Portland State’s jazz program, is set to deliver a genre-warping set of original compositions inspired by indie, R&B, and salsa. Wrapping up the day with a late-night set, DJ and producer Nickodemus drives steady beats sprinkled with Eastern, African, and Latin instrumentals. 

On the 18th, Oakland native Ambrose Akinmusire is set to shake The Old Church with his boundless trumpeting eruptions through a style that has been aptly described as “intellectually restless” (DownBeat). Across town, I Am, the duo formed by Isaiah Collier and Michael Shekwoaga Ode will be jamming following their spiritual and provoking 2022 release Beyond. Wrapping up the weekend on the 19th, Ravid Kahalani’s Yemen Blues provides a vivacious fusion of traditional Yemenite music, Latin jazz, and West African beats. 

Launching into the second week, pianist and composer Jasnam Daya Singh leads the 12 members of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble in his work Ekta: The Unity Project. Two doubleheaders are lined up with the Australian “wondercore” group Hiatus Kaiyote and hip-hop jazz ensemble Butcher Brown taking over Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on the 21st, and Seattle’s own Shabazz Palaces jamming alongside poet-vocalist Moor Mother at Alberta Rose Theatre on the 22nd. Also making an appearance is acclaimed drummer Mark Guiliana, known for his dual role in crafting both acoustic jazz percussion and boundary-pushing electronica known as “Beat Music,” who will lead a four-piece set on the 23rd and a beat music night on the 24th. 

The final two days of the festival are jam-packed with local artists, jazz greats, and a series of pre-show conversations with musicians. Jazz bass pioneers Dave Holland and Derrick Hodge will be sitting down for a chat at P5’s ArtBar before performing back-to-back sets with their respective trios in a double headliner. The Overbridge Jazz Quartet, comprised of talented high schoolers from across the Portland metro area, will be showcasing their swing and bebop at the University Place Hotel. Closing out the festival, genre-hopping flutist Hubert Laws will be pairing up with the incredible multi-instrumentalist and composer Brian Jackson for another conversation at ArtBar led by jazz historian Ashley Kahn, followed by a full night at the Newmark Theatre. 

In addition to the tunes, the documentary Inside Scofield, will debut at the Kennedy School Theater from the 18th to 19th, tracing the life and work of John Scofield’s 40-year journey as a “road dog.” Mt. Hood Community College is also hosting a Jazz Lecture Series, with presentations including “Jazz Goes to the Movies,” spotlighting Miles Davis’ original score to the 1958 Louis Malle film Elevator to the Gallows, and “Four Women” detailing the legacy of Nina Simone, Etta James, Abbey Lincoln, and Betty Carter. 

For a full lineup and schedule, including a list of free events and performances, visit pdxjazz.org


Posted on

February 1, 2023