The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (PJCE) is creating a new piece of community-guided music, “From Maxville to Vanport,” incorporating the stories of two unique towns in Oregon’s history: Maxville and Vanport. The project will culminate in a concert-length composition for the PJCE to be performed in April in concerts in Wallowa County, La Grande and Baker City, and May 26 and 27, 2018, as part of the Vanport Festival in Portland (May 25–28). Maxville and Vanport both had significant multicultural populations at a time when Oregon was particularly unfriendly to non-white residents, and their histories deserve to be heard and better understood by all Oregonians.
At this event, PJCE will present a song that will become part of that larger work and will gather input from people who care about these stories. Audience members will hear vocalist Marilyn Keller and composer/pianist Ezra Weiss perform the song “From Maxville to Vanport,” featuring text by Renee Mitchell. Commentary from all three as well as Maxville Heritage Executive Director Gwendolyn Trice and former Vanport resident Edward Washington will follow, along with robust discussion with the audience. Vanport flood survivors, their families, and all people who are interested in how this story will be told as PJCE takes the performance on tour to eastern Oregon and back to Portland in the spring of 2018 are especially encouraged to attend.
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. The PJCE has received support from the OCF’s 2015 Creative Heights and Small Arts programs, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the Oregon Arts Commission. Now in its tenth year, the PJCE has commissioned more than 50 composers, and produced more than 30 concerts of original works.