Spring brings shower of jazz to MHCC
If You Go
What: Evening of Jazz — Mt. Hood Community College Jazz Ensembles Concert with special guest Dmitri Matheny
When: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11
Where: Mt. Hood Community College Theater, 26000 S.E. Stark St., Gresham. Tickets and information: visit mhcc.edu/theatreboxoffice/ or call 503-491-7154.
What: MHCC Jazz Combos at Spinella's Off the Wall
When: 5-7 p.m., Monday, March 16 Where: 436 N. Main Ave., Gresham. Admission: Free, all ages.
For more information: visit spinellasoffthewall.com or call 503-492-0800.
In recent weeks, Mt. Hood Community College has been alive with the sounds of music as students and community-based musicians prepare for concerts on and off campus showcasing classical-, pops- and jazz-based ensembles.
Dan Davey, music instructor and director of the school's Jazz Studies Department, is excited about two upcoming performances at the college and Spinella's in downtown Gresham on Wednesday, March 11, and Monday, March 16, respectively.
The first concert features several ensembles, including MHCC's Big Band and Sam Barlow High School Jazz Band, while the second features the college's smaller jazz combos in a more intimate club setting.
Davey took a moment from his intensely busy late winter schedule to talk about the bevy of musical activity.
The Outlook: What are you looking forward to about this year's Jazz Ensembles Concert? How many ensembles/students are performing?
Dan Davey: I'm really excited to have an Evening of Jazz this term. Generally, we share a concert with the MHCC Symphonic Band, but this term's concert is specifically featuring our college Big Band. I have also invited the Jazz Band from Sam Barlow High School to join us on this concert. Both bands will perform with our guest artist, Dmitri Matheny. On March 16th, our five college jazz combos will perform at Spinella's in Gresham from 6-8 p.m., followed by our Jazz Faculty Quintet from 8-9 p.m. Both events should be really exciting.
Outlook: What comprises the repertoire for the concerts?
Davey: The selections for Wednesday's (March 11) concert vary from music by Thad Jones to Radiohead. Dmitri selected tunes for the band that he will be featured on. We will also feature several student improvisers as well. The Faculty Quintet will perform original music as well as standard jazz repertoire during their set on March 16.
Outlook: What is it about jazz, old or new, that excites or inspires you? Do your students share your feelings and enthusiasm?
Davey: Jazz is an American-born genre that reflects what each of us does on a daily basis. We go about our day, interacting with several people in ways that bring out the best in each other. We do this without a script or even a detailed plan. Jazz music reflects the same improvisatory situation musically. Individuals have a voice in this genre, which is one of the aspects that makes it so special. My students are passionate about the work they do. They put hours into their practice, hoping to improve their skills and techniques. They all really appreciate the self-expression that this genre allows.
Outlook: Would any true music lover enjoy this concert, or is some appreciation for jazz a prerequisite?
Davey: Anyone who loves and appreciates music would enjoy this concert. You don't need to have a deep knowledge of who played on which album of Dexter Gordon's in order to be excited by the music that will be performed at either event.
Outlook: What led to a show at Spinella's Off the Wall in downtown Gresham?
Davey: Spinella's graciously hosts our jazz combos at the end of every term. We've had this relationship with them for a few years and we always pack the venue with excited and supportive listeners who are actively involved in the music. It's a really inspiring environment.
Outlook: How are the ensembles organized?
Davey: Each ensemble has its own vibe and style. The ensembles at the college have a full week packed with performances. Each one will be worth the visit and will connect with the audience in different ways.
There are five student jazz combos at the college ... comprised of students. Most of them are music majors, but not all of them, as it's not a requirement. They are coached by myself, John Nastos, Ryan Meagher and Tim Gilson.
Outlook: Where and when do these musicians usually perform?
Davey: The combos have performed as part of the Portland Jazz Festival, the Montavilla Jazz Festival, at Al's Den (in downtown Portland), at the 1905 and as part of the newly revived Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. The jazz students in our department are given lots of exposure to the professional world and are given opportunities to perform gigs often and in various venues.
Outlook: How is your plan to resurrect the dormant Mt. Hood Jazz Festival coming along?
Davey: The Mt. Hood Jazz Festival's return will have a new face from the old summer outdoor festival. There will be an educational component to it that will feature performances by middle and high school students competing in various divisions. There will be hourly workshops to improve and teach skills for playing, performing and marketing musicians. There will be two headlining performances and six additional professional performances throughout the weekend. (It) will be a jazz immersion for all who attend. It will be a weekend of inspiration and excitement. I think the founders of the festival from the early '80s would be proud to see the festival uniting the audience of today with the audience and musicians of tomorrow.
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