Mission Statement

The Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble is a 12-piece jazz chamber orchestra which commissions and performs original works by its members and by other jazz composers in the Portland music community and beyond. It is our mission to operate a large musical ensemble, to commission and perform original works by members of the ensemble and by other jazz composers in the Portland music community and elsewhere, to act as a forum for the development and presentation of works for large ensemble by established and emerging jazz composers, and to engage and enrich community awareness and appreciation of contemporary music. We also operate a grassroots label, PJCE Records, which releases albums of original music by local jazz artists.

Guiding Principles

  • Enrich the first uniquely American art form.
  • Cultivate the development of new music.
  • Encourage and promote established and emerging living composers.
  • Provide a forum for experimentation without commercial concern.
  • Disseminate contemporary American music through publicity, recordings, newsletters and affordable concerts in varied venues to promote jazz appreciation both locally and nationally.
  • Collaborate with artists, other nonprofits, and creative organizations in multiple disciplines.
  • Foster relationships with educational institutions.

History

The PJCE was founded in 2007 by pianist Andrew Oliver and saxophonist Gus Slayton after the pair graduated from Portland State University. Along with a particularly vibrant group of student composers in the PSU big band that year, they wanted to continue to create new music for large ensemble.
 
The first concerts were informal and exciting examples of a like-minded group of young musicians getting together to create new sounds and experiment with the textures of large ensemble jazz. The Portland Mercury called the PJCE’s second show “the most strikingly punk show I’ve seen in years,” and the band went on to premiere over 20 new compositions by Portland composers in its first few years of existence.
 
As the organization evolved and matured, the PJCE continued to commission and perform new music for large ensemble by an increasing variety of established and emerging Portland-area composers while also establishing itself as a nonprofit corporation in 2010.
 
The administrative team expanded with the addition of Dan Duval soon thereafter, and in 2013 Andrew and Dan co-founded PJCE Records, a new record label branch of the organization, filling a void in the Portland music scene by documenting the rich variety of small group jazz and creative music being created by local composers and improvisers.  In the first year of its existence, the label released one album per month, often recorded in informal live sessions designed to reflect the immediacy of the music’s creation and the natural sound of the groups. The label, now under the direction of Ryan Meagher and Douglas Detrick, continues to regularly release a wide variety of high quality original music by Oregon artists.
 
In 2013, Andrew Oliver moved to London and Douglas Detrick was elected Executive Director upon his departure. Since then, the organization has expanded its scope to include collaborations with special local and national guests such as John Gross, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Catherine Feeny and a variety of themed concerts tying into elements of local history and culture.
 
The PJCE launched its podcast Beyond Category in 2015 to expand the organization’s platform and give artists an opportunity to share their stories and music with a wider audience.
 

Staff

Douglas Detrick, Executive Director

Douglas Detrick is a Portland, Oregon-based composer, trumpet player, and arts administrator and consultant whose work in these diverse areas is distinguished by its quiet thoughtfulness and its embrace of good ideas from unconventional sources. He was a 2017 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellow and was awarded the 2011 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works and Presenting Jazz grants for his work with his chamber-jazz quintet Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble, and the commissioned work “The Bright and Rushing World” was premiered at New York’s Jazz Gallery in 2012 and performed throughout the United States. He is currently the Executive Director of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, and performs in Oregon as well as touring nationally.

Ryan Meagher, Director of Operations, Director of PJCE Records

Ryan Meagher (pronounced Marr), originally a native of San Jose, California, is a jazz guitarist and composer who launched his international reputation in New York City (NYC) in 2003 after completing his bachelor of music degree at San Diego State University.  He spent his first few years in NYC discovering his compositional voice and honing his improvisational craft.

He is a co-founder and the Programming Director of the Montavilla Jazz Festival, the Director of Operations of the Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble, Director of PJCE Records, Director of Portland State University’s “The Shed” Summer Jazz Workshop, Editor of the Jazzscene Magazine, Marketing and Advertising Consultant for the Oregon Coast Jazz Party, and was interim Director of Jazz Studies at Mt. Hood Community College before taking his vision to the Lower Columbia College Jazz Ensemble in Longview, Washington. He is also currently Instructor of Applied Jazz Guitar at San Diego State University.

Mieke Bruggeman-Smith, Education Coordinator

Mieke Bruggeman-Smith runs the PJCE’s Grasshoppers Young Composers program. She is a performer, educator, and composer/arranger. She performs in a wide variety of groups including the Quadraphonnes, an all-female sax quartet, Afro-Cuban band Melao de Cuba, and the PJCE, as well as classical saxophone and musical theatre.

Mieke also enjoys teaching private lessons at her home studio and co-teaching at Roosevelt HS, Beaumont MS and with the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra. She is heavily involved in promoting music education and loves collaborating with her music community. Music is the one outlet that (as author Tom Robbins might say) keeps the oxygen from leaking out of her life.

Board of Directors

Terry Butler

Terry Butler retired after 40 years in social work, with a focus on child and family services. He brings experience on governing and advisory boards for a number of non-profit organizations. Terry has had a near lifelong love for jazz music and its history, and sees PJCE as an important part of sustaining a vibrant jazz community in Oregon. Terry also does volunteer restoration work in Oregon’s high desert.

Donna Cruz-Moreno

Donna Cruz-Moreno is originally from in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2002, she moved to Portland, Oregon with her husband and two sons. Donna became a Jazz student/enthusiast, and in the course of her studies, she learned more about Portland jazz artists and support organizations. She is President of “Portland Rock on with us” (PROWUS), a music scholarship program for students ages 8-18 in the Portland area.

Lynn Darroch (President)

Darroch’s books include “Rhythm in the Rain – Jazz in the Pacific Northwest” (2015, Portland State University’s Ooligan Press) and ”Between Fire and Love – Contemporary Peruvian Writing.” His articles about jazz artists appear in “The Encyclopedia of United States Popular Culture,” and he has written previews, reviews and features about jazz and related topics for the Oregonian and other newspapers and magazines. He wrote and narrated historical interludes for Norman Sylvester’s “The Journey of Blues and Gospel in America” shows and wrote the script for the Darrell Grant-PDXJazz production, “The Incredible Journey of Jazz.” He has hosted a show on KMHD (89.1 FM) for 12 years and finished a career in higher education at Mt. Hood Community College. Links to his video and audio stories with live jazz at lynndarroch.com.

Pam Jones (Secretary)

I have lived in Portland for 40 years and as a stay-at-home mom came to jazz later in life when my three kids were in middle and high school. I read about pianist Darrell Grant’s People Music Project and went out to hear them, and this led to going out for live music and getting acquainted with the jazz community. I have served on the board of the Jazz Society of Oregon, volunteered for PDX Jazz Festival as their volunteer coordinator, as well as organizing their “Incredible Journey of Jazz” performances in the schools. I have followed PJCE since it was founded and appreciate the direction it has taken by making connections with the community and beyond.

Mark Kramer

Mark Kramer, Attorney, specializes in family law and civil litigation including personal injury, civil rights, and employment cases. He has more than 35 years of trial experience and extensive experience in family law issues ranging from adoption and contested custody to grandparent and psychological parent rights. Mark has served as a pro-tem judge for the Multnomah County Circuit Court. As co-counsel for the Oregon State Judiciary Committee and in private practice, Mark drafted family law legislation that is now Oregon law. He is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and represents pro bono clients including Right 2 Dream Too.  He joined the Board in 2015 and provides support to the Board in contract, regulatory compliance, insurance and other matters.  

Mark graduated with honors from Cornell University and then received his law degree from Northeastern University. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Mark is married to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has two adult sons.  

Laura Martinez

Laura Martinez is a music industry Artist Manager, promoter, curator, music education advocate and cultural ambassador who has been a powerful force in working behind the scenes for over 25 years in the world music, Latin jazz, straight ahead jazz and avant-garde jazz idioms. Laura branched out on her own and is the CEO and Founder of World Fusion Events since its inception in 2011.  

World Fusion Events is an Artist Management and Events Company dedicated to providing cross-cultural education and entertainment experiences through the cultivation of innovative promotion, presentation and preservation of culturally significant artists here in the United States and in International markets. World Fusion Events has created community outreach programs such as The Children’s Music Program, which is now presented in two pre-schools and ten middle schools based in Portland, Oregon, in addition to curating the Nuestra Raices (Our Roots) and Language of Latin Jazz – Cultural & Musical Dialogues which are a series of master classes, concerts and traveling marketplaces. 

Martin Mueller

Martin is the former Dean of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City and was active in jazz education for 40 years, in the U.S. and in more than 25 countries.  He is a founding member of the International Association of Schools of Jazz and was the NYC leader for the National Endowment for the Arts study, “Changing the Beat: A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians.” He received Downbeat Magazine’s Achievement Award for Jazz Education in 2002 and the “A Team” advocacy award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2005. 

Lee Toft

I took up the trumpet at a young age and have gigged off and on ever since. Growing up, my idols were Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan. Playing in R&B bands while in junior high and high school throughout the metro New York City area, I had the opportunity to perform often, including an amateur night at the Apollo Theater.

After graduating from college, I went on the road for few years and toured the US and Canada extensively while playing trumpet and keyboards for a road production of the Broadway show Beatlemania. Eventually I took on the responsibilities of tour manager and tour accountant while continuing to work as a backstage musician. After I got off the road, I picked up a day job.

Happily, I was still able to play trumpet on Latin gigs, club dates and freelance orchestral engagements. In 1991 I moved to Los Angeles and began a 25 year career in TV and Film post-production. In addition to live sports and entertainment broadcasts, I also worked on projects for ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, BET, Disney, SyFy, Animal Planet, Discovery Network, A&E as well as other organizations. In 2016 I moved to Oregon fulltime and transitioned into real estate (which it turns out is remarkably similar to post-production). In my spare time, I attempt to play simple piano pieces while thinking about working to get my trumpet chops back.

Jim Toscano

Jim Toscano, a newcomer  to Portland, serves as a consultant to nonprofit organizations in planning, governance and resource development. His career in nonprofits spanned over 50 years, 37 of them as a CEO. He earned a BA at Rutgers College and a MA at Yale University.

Tom Wiederrecht (Treasurer)

Tom Wiederrecht has a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado (2005), and a Post-baccalaureate Accounting Certificate from Portland State University (2012). He is currently a Certified Public Accountant working exclusively with nonprofit organizations of all sizes in Oregon and Southwest Washington. He has served as Treasurer of the PJCE Board of Directors since 2014.

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