Third Montavilla Jazz Fest a hit

Look and see why, by every measure, this year’s music festival in Montavilla outshone past events …

The Gordon Lee Quartet featuring Warren Rand performs in outer East Portland at the 2016 Montavilla Jazz Festival.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The 2016 edition of the Montavilla Jazz Festival, held again this year for two days at Portland Metro Arts, featured local Portland artists from across the spectrum of musical expression, as well as nationally-known musicians.

Held on the weekend of August 20 and 21, the festival – a project of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association – met its mission of supporting local artists, while creating an accessible cultural experience for all.

At the check-in desk are volunteers Jennifer Valenta and Chiara Maltese.

The main organizers of the festival, Executive Director Fritz Hirsch, Art Director Aaron Hayman, Development Director Neil Mattson, and Program Director Ryan Meagher, take a break for a photo as the event is underway.

“The artists featured at this year’s festival are truly creating new frontiers in jazz,” remarked Fritz Hirsch, managing director of the Montavilla Jazz Festival.

“Our goals are to showcase local jazz artists, attract visitors to our community, and support music education in our schools,” Hirsch told East Portland News.

Scenes, with John Stowell, Jeff Johnson and John Bishop jams during the show.

Thanks to the neighborhood association and Southeast Uplift, as well as festival sponsors and the work of many volunteers, Hirsch believes the festival has become a unique and dynamic musical venue.

George Colligan, one of Portland’s most celebrated jazz performers and composers, headlined during both evening shows.

In the Young Musicians Pavilion in the beer garden, local student jazz group, the Domino Branch Band, performs.

Feeding festival goers is Todd Dennis of East Gleason Pizza Lounge.

Other top acts included Trio Uncontrollable, featuring guitarist Dan Balmer; Jeff Baker–Phrases, featuring pianist Darrell Grant; Batida Diferente featuring pianist and composer Kerry Politzer; and Scenes, featuring guitarist John Stowell, bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer John Bishop.

“This year, the Montavilla Jazz Festival is proud to become a member of the Arts for All program, administered by the Regional Arts and Culture Council,” Hirsch pointed out. “This provided deeply-discounted passes to those who qualified, allowing people from all walks of life to attend the concerts.”

Warming up before their set are Michael Gamble with The InBetweens.

The festival’s fun continues until late, at the “After Hours” jam session held at East Gleason Pizza Lounge.

Again this year, Hirsch said a portion of ticket sales benefit the Montavilla Schools Music Fund, which supports music education programs in Bridger Elementary School, Creative Science School, and Vestal Elementary.

“On behalf of all our volunteers and sponsors, we thank the community for supporting this unique music festival, and we look forward to presenting it again next year,” Hirsch concluded.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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