Montavilla Jazz Fest continues to flourish

Here’s why lovers of all genres of jazz music travel to outer East Portland to attend this unique event in Montavilla …

Welcoming guests to the 2017 Montavilla Jazz Festival held at Portland Metro Arts are volunteers Sharon White and Tina Granco.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Since its first weekend of jazz, held in 2014 at Milepost5, the Montavilla Jazz Festival has continued to thrive.

Moving the two-day event into air-conditioned Portland Metro Arts made this mid-summer concert series even more attractive to jazz music fans.

In the new indoor Student Stage in the Jazz Lounge, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra – part of the PROWUS program – performs.

This year’s festival, held August 18-19, again attracted a record number of concertgoers.

And, learning from their experience with an outdoor Student Stage and beer garden during a sweltering hot summer weekend, organizers wisely moved this attraction inside the air-conditioned building.

The festival’s creator and Director-Emeritus, Fritz Hirsch, spends a moment with current Festival Director and President Neil Mattson.

“We started planning this year’s festival in January, beginning the programming, picking the bands, and doing some the organizational duties,” remarked this year’s Festival Director and President Neil Mattson.

“In July we’ve become a nonprofit organization, so our core team is now composed of board members, including Secretary Ryan Meagher, and at-large board members Aaron Hayman and Fritz Hirsch,” Mattson said.

Trio Subtonic with Dan Balmer performs at the Montavilla Jazz Festival.

They’re helped out by a half dozen other volunteers who assist with their website, social media, and promotion. “But during the actual event, about 100 people help to make it run smoothly,” Mattson told East Portland News.

It’s first and foremost that the festival has been and continues to be a community event. “Part of this is helping to enhance the Montavilla neighborhood, because we’re giving people an opportunity to listen to great music, do volunteer work, and promote local businesses who are associated with us,” Mattson explained, adding that some fifty partners and sponsors provided funding and in-kind donations.

Between the featured performers, guests chill out in the new Jazz Lounge.

Now serving food in air-conditioned comfort is Todd Dennis, owner of East Gleason Pizza Lounge.

“And it’s also Greater Portland’s jazz community that we serve,” Mattson pointed out. “We feel that the jazz community needs an event that features local artists; we found there is a place for that. Another part of our festival’s ‘golden circle’ is giving back; all of these artists on the main stage ‘impact the community’ by helping other beginning musicians – many of whom are teachers and educators.”

Playing to a full house is the Andre St. James Sound Ensemble with George Sams.

On the stage, students – many of them grew up in Montavilla – have the opportunity to perform between main acts, the organizer said. “And finally, the festival also gives back by providing funding for music education in our neighborhood schools.”

Stay in touch, and learn more about the Montavilla Jazz Festival at their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News


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