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Groovy, Jazzy October

From Paul Safar’s latest to Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

 Best known for his Cherry Blossom Musical Arts productions with partner and singer Nancy Wood, Eugene composer Paul Safar was named 2013 Oregon Composer of the Year by the Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA) and this summer completed a prestigious composition residency in Alaska. Several of Safar’s recent classically inspired works draw on themes and imagery from nature, including the title track of his alluring new CD, The Warbler Sings, which he releases in concert Saturday, Oct. 8, at The Jazz Station.

Soprano Wood, bassist Nathan Waddell and trumpeter Dave Bender join Safar on “Warbler,” a seven-part setting of nature-inspired haiku by the famous Japanese poet Basho, commissioned by OMTA, whose styles touch on jazz, classical and other genres. Eugene’s excellent Delgani Quartet will play Safar’s Moonfish with Wood, and the show features other music from this splendid new release.

More jazz-tinged music, this time mixed with funk rather than classical, happens at McTuff’s show at Hi-Fi Music Hall Oct. 8. The Seattle-based ensemble features Hammond B3 organist Joe Doria’s grooving tributes to classic jazz organ trios led by near-namesake Captain Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith, but also contemporary original grooves. Jazz organ buffs will also flock to Cozmic Oct. 12 to hear B3 (and clavinet) champ Wil Blades perform in his duo with Scott Amendola, probably the Bay Area’s busiest jazz drummer. They’ve played with Nels Cline, John Zorn, John Scofield and plenty more, and their groovy jazz echoes those old organ-drum-bass trios of the 1950s and ’60s but adds modern rhythms and harmonies. 

Another great jazz keyboard-and-drum duo arrives at Sam Bond’s Garage Oct. 13. Matt Chamberlain is well known for drumming with jazz stars like Bill Frisell, Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau, along with pop singers like David Bowie, Fiona Apple and Morrissey. He and keyboardist Brian Haas, who leads the groovy Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, deliver strutting 21st-century jazz-funk on their new album Prometheus Risen.

The big, big jazz show is Oct. 11 when Wynton Marsalis brings Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to the Hult Center. Probably the finest jazz orchestra in the world, it features not just trumpeter and composer Marsalis’s richly colorful originals but also classics by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and contemporary big band composers. It is a must-see for jazz fans. 

 When the Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain half a millennium ago, they set out on a centuries-long journey through Europe, many settling along the northern coast of the Mediterranean in Turkey, Greece and the Balkans. Some recounted the often-harrowing stories of their migration in music, but because the songs were written in Ladino, an esoteric language blended from Spanish, Hebrew, Greek and Arabic, the music has languished in obscurity.

Musician Guy Mendilow heard some of those songs while growing up in Jerusalem, then encountered them again while living in Mexico. He embarked on a study tour, ranging from Sarajevo to Salonica, finding remnants of the Sephardic Jewish culture ravaged by World War II. He’s arranged some of his favorites for his ensemble (Argentine tango soprano, American classical violinist, Palestinian percussionist and woodwind player), which performs Oct. 9 at The Shedd. When I heard them in Portland last year, the program mixed brief stories with musical set pieces, covering centuries of Gypsy-influenced music from medieval through modern times, including a letter written on the train to the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp. Using fiddle, percussion (berimbau and shakers) and voice, Mendilow’s trio gave a riveting performance that touched on folk, classical and world music from across the ages.

The Shedd also brings acclaimed fiddler-guitarist-singer-banjoist Bruce Molsky back Oct.7 to play old-time and original Appalachian-inspired music, and there’s more rootsy Americana at Tsunami Books Oct. 16 with singer Nell Robinson and Jim Nunally’s quintet.

A few classical gems: On Oct. 16, Oregon Bach Collegium brings Portland early music masters Cascadia Viols and singers Tim Galloway and Kerry McCarthy to sing and play gorgeous consort music by the great English Renaissance composer William Byrd. The same day, Cascadia Concert Opera presents its Opera Fest at First United Methodist Church with arias and ensemble works from famous operas and musicals. On Oct. 17, Chamber Music Amici plays a Mozart string quartet and Brahms’s big Piano Quintet in F at Wildish Community Theater.