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Monday, September 8, 2008

The Portland Jazz Festival is Dead

Posted by Ezra Ace Caraeff on Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 1:41 PM

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The Portland Jazz Festival is no more. According to a press release from this morning, the festival (which started in 2004) and has featured the likes of Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, and more, is going under.

Operations and planning for the 2009 February event could not continue because of a decline in funding and sponsorship support. New sponsors could not be found and other short falls accumulated making it impossible to survive on ticket sale projections and related forms of earned revenue. Even with the anticipation of the 09 festival dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records, recent attempts to develop support throughout the community were not successful.

That's not good. While we always covered the headliners in some capacity, I always wish we wrote about this festival more. You can read the full press release after the jump.

Portland Jazz Festival is ceasing operations ending a five-year span of presenting a world class jazz festival each February in Portland.

Operations and planning for the 2009 February event could not continue because of a decline in funding and sponsorship support. New sponsors could not be found and other short falls accumulated making it impossible to survive on ticket sale projections and related forms of earned revenue. Even with the anticipation of the 09 festival dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records, recent attempts to develop support throughout the community were not successful.

Since opening February 2004 with Wayne Shorter, Portland Jazz Festival has presented such artists as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Chick Corea & Gary Burton, Dianne Reeves, McCoy Tyner & Ravi Coltrane, and many others. Over the past few years, an array of international artists, including Trygve Seim and Tord Gustavsen (Norway), Tomasz Stanko (Poland), Nik Bartsch's Ronin (Switzerland), Amina Figarova (Holland), and Diego Ramirez (Mexico), have been prominently spotlighted.

In addition, PDX Jazz was formed two years ago as the membership umbrella, presenting jazz throughout the rest of the year. With a membership base, PDX Jazz has presented Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny & Brad Mehldau, Return to Forever, and Esperanza Spalding to Portland audiences. In 2007, PDX Jazz initiated the Portland Jazz Orchestra as the resident ensemble of the Portland Jazz Festival with members acting as clinicians and workshop leaders for free instructional programs for student musicians. The Orchestra will move forward with its 2008 concert schedule.

Jazz Education & Outreach programs have always been a vital part of Portland Jazz Festival February events with middle school performances of The Incredible Journey of Jazz celebrating Black History Month; dozens of performances by student musicians at the PDX Jazz Pavilion at Pioneer Courthouse Square; free master classes with Regina Carter, Donald Harrison, Dave Douglas, and others; open rehearsals with SF Jazz Collective, Bill Frisell, and Myra Melford; countless Jazz Conversations and Jazz Journalists' panel discussions.

The Portland Jazz Festival would like to thank the following. Special thanks to our Volunteer Coordinators, whose dedication for this festival truly defines commitment. Our Sponsors, past and present, for your support. We thank the hundreds of Volunteers who each year worked tirelessly and passionately.

Most of all, we would like to thank the incredible Audiences and Members who supported this festival and will continue to support jazz in the northwest. Thank you.

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