The number of veterans from jazz’s Golden Age is steadily dwindling, but a few artists continue making vital music. Venerable drummer Roy Haynes just played the Portland Jazz Festival, and saxophonist Benny Golson performs Thursday, March 1, at the Jazz Station. The plucky little volunteer-run downtown venue that’s given so many opportunities to local improvisers scored a real coup by bringing one of jazz’s finest composers to Eugene, where he will perform early and late sets.
Golson’s played with or written for most of jazz’s immortals, including everyone from Basie to Ella to Miles to Benny Goodman; scored classic TV series like M*A*S*H and Mission Impossible; and his early ’60s Jazztet with Art Farmer is justly regarded as one of the most sophisticated and accomplished of all jazz bands. At 83, Golson’s still going strong, playing Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and performing new commissioned work next month in Pittsburgh. But we get him first, in an ideally intimate setting.
You can hear more classic jazz at the latest installment of UO jazz prof and KLCC announcer Carl Woideck’s heritage project at The Shedd, also on March 1. This time, the saxophonist’s band, abetted by singer Sonja Rasmussen, will play music by those great American songwriters whose music laid the foundation for so much jazz, George and Ira Gershwin.
The Shedd brings another repeat offender March 2, when the inimitable Nellie McKay returns with her latest project: I Want to Live, based on the movie of that title, which gave a film-noir treatment to the dark life of murderer Barbara Graham. McKay brings a potent ukulele, sly humor, a crack band and considerable musical charm to an unlikely cabaret show of period standards and originals that’s drawn raves in New York City.
For a taste of the younger generation of rising jazz stars, check out saxophonist Joe Manis’ 30th birthday bash at Sam Bond’s on March 3, featuring guitarist Justin Morell. Another great Portland guitarist, Dan Balmer, joins the Oregon Jazz Ensemble March 2 at Beall Concert Hall. And UO jazz saxophonist/composer Idit Shner plays her original compositions March 8 at UO’s Aasen-Hull Hall with Korean jazz pianist Jangeun Bae.
The UO’s ChamberMusic@Beall series on March 4 brings France’s terrific Ebene Quartet to the superb concert hall. If there’s such a thing as a buzz band in classical chamber music, this young French foursome is it. Over the past few years, they’ve blitzed the classical establishment (winning some of the genre’s most august prizes, including Gramophone’s coveted Record of the Year award) and reached beyond traditional confines with appearances on public radio and covers of pop and jazz tunes. Here, they’ll play quartets by Mozart, Schubert and Tchaikovsky.
March 5, UO’s chancy Loaded Dice ensemble plays aleatoric and indeterminate music by American modernists Morton Feldman, Earle Browne and other composers. Bua, a quartet of young, Celtic music-besotted Americans, will unleash their Irish traditional tunes March 9 at Beall, courtesy of the school’s valuable World Music Series. March 12, visiting saxophonist Ann Bradfield will play contemporary non-jazz music for sax at Beall, while on March 13, still another saxphonista, Christopher Creviston, arrives from New York with pianist Hannah Gruber to perform new music written for the pair by contemporary composers.
Over in Springfield, Chamber Music Amici will reprise its innovative children’s program, The Emperor’s New Clothes, in a version by composer Peter Schickele, aka PDQ Bach, in six free performances for 1,800 third through fifth graders from the surrounding area on March 6-8. Eugene actor Bill Hulings will narrate the original story, and a quintet of dancers will perform the original choreography of Eugene Ballet’s Ben Goodman. The general public can see the show 2 pm Saturday, March 10, in Wildish Theater.