A sextet of PJCE musicians perform works by graduates of PJCE’s Young Jazz Composers program. We launched our young jazz composers mentorship program in 2016, with three student composers and their mentors writing for our large jazz ensemble. In 2023, this program has grown to include more students per year writing compositions for jazz quintet under the guidance of a professional mentors. This event is a showcase for some of the most ambitious graduates of our program who have taken their experiences in the program further by continuing to compose on their own. 

The Composers:

Adriana Wagner is a trombonist and composer and draws inspiration from a wide array of influences, combining traditional and modern jazz sounds submerging the listener in her visionary storytelling. As a performer, Wagner uses lyrical elements to create melodies combined with a soft, rich tone that can resonate above or become immersed within the composition’s harmonic structures. Based in Portland, Oregon, she graduated from the Jazz Program at Portland State University under full scholarship in 2022. She was selected for the Young Jazz Composers program, highlighted by an in-depth article from Oregon Arts Watch. Wagner was recently named one of the inaugural recipients of the Music Oregon Echo Fund grant to help create her debut album. She has performed with The 1905 Orchestra, Pura Vida Orchestra, Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, Brown Branch Big Band, The PDX Jazz: American Refrain, and more.

Spy Mohr is a sophomore in High school, from Sherwood Oregon, currently in PYJO and several bands at her school. Mohr enjoys composing and cats and attended the year of 22 YJC Program.

Oliver Kher is primarily a pianist studying mathematics in Florence, Italy through New York University, and will be living in New York starting next year. Kher loves working on music in any aspect, whether it is playing or creating. Kher states that the YJC was a fantastic opportunity to learn about composition, and is excited to write a piece for the YJC Alumni concert.

Matt Olason is a musician and teacher who participated in the YJC program in 2018. He plays live with his own Jazz Trio in SW Washington on a regular basis. He currently resides in Olympia, writing and performing music, substitute teaching, and hanging out with his girlfriend. He has plans to record his first record this July.

Quinn Walker is a trumpet player, composer and jazz educator living in the Portland area. Walker currently working as the director of the 2nd jazz band at Prairie HS in Vancouver, and helping with the jazz combo program at Grant HS. He is the artist in residence this year at Mount Tabor MS through Montavilla Jazz. Walker also works in Portland as a freelance trumpet player/teacher and works frequently in the jazz and salsa scenes within PDX. He enjoys spending his free time playing disc golf, and hanging out with his girlfriend and dog, Sonny. Walker did the YJC program in 2018.

Jon deVries is in his final semester at Reed College, where he hopes that they will give him a degree in “Biology and Philosophy.” Michigan is Jon’s birthplace and he currently resides in SE Portland. Much of Jon’s time is devoted to playing the trumpet and the bass, composing (of course!), and producing harmonious sounds at large. Jon attended the 2020/2021 YJC program where his composition was infected by COVID, but thankfully made a full recovery.

The PJCE Sextet: Cyrus Nabipoor, trumpet; Adriana Wagner, trombone; Machado Mijiga, drums; Melissa Carroll, alto saxaphone; Joe Bagg, piano; Ross Garlow, bass.

Young Jazz Composers: Young Jazz Composers program is a six-month mentorship and performance opportunity for students to learn the ins and outs of composing for a professional jazz ensemble. Through one-on-one private lessons and professional group feedback, students gain valuable insight into the idiosyncrasies of composing. By the end of the program, students will be able to understand the basic skills needed to compose a tune, use digital notation software, and correctly notate parts for rhythm section and horns. Their resulting pieces are performed by PJCE Ensemble members at a concert at The 1905. Each composer receives copies of the professionally recorded performance for their portfolio.