PORTLAND JAZZ COMPOSERS ENSEMBLE IN RESIDENCE AT OSU
The OSU Jazz Ensemble, directed by Ryan Biesack, performs at 7:30 pm, PJCE follows at 8:30, concluding around 9:30 pm. The performance concludes a day of workshops with OSU students led by vocalist Marilyn Keller, composer Ezra Weiss, and PJCE Executive Director and trumpeter Douglas Detrick.
The 12-piece Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble performs original songs and short films inspired by two towns that reveal distinctive viewpoints of the state’s under-represented Black history. Looking honestly at the prejudice these people faced, the joyful program celebrates their resilience, courage, and important contributions to Oregon through jazz, R&B, and blues.
The music, composed by Weiss with lyrics by poet S. Renee Mitchell, is performed by the PJCE with vocalist Marilyn Keller. The project also includes two film shorts by filmmaker Kalimah Abioto scored by Weiss that will be projected with the ensemble performing the score. http://pjce.org/maxville-to-vanport/
From Maxville to Vanport was funded by the Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights program and was sponsored by Vanport Mosaic and Oregon Historical Society.
Water – a film by Kalimah Abioto, music by Ezra Weiss
Produced by Kalimah Abioto, “Water” explores a young African American boy’s experience playing outdoors, like boys who lived in Vanport would have done in the 1940’s. He climbs and runs, plays marbles, tosses a baseball, and boxes. Soon, the boy sees rushing waters that foreshadow the Vanport Flood of 1948, and then we see the boy as a man, remembering rather than anticipating the flood of emotions he felt at the loss of his home.
Hear the conversations that guided “From Maxville to Vanport”
Our artistic team spoke with audiences in Portland and Wallowa County, where we asked the people directly connected to these histories to tell us how they felt about them and how they would want us to portray their experiences. That feedback along with extensive conversations with Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center Executive Director Gwendolyn Trice and other descendants and former residents of both Vanport and Maxville informed the creation of the piece. It was essential for their narratives to be portrayed authentically and respectfully in this project, and we are so grateful to have had so many participate so generously.
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About the Artists:
Marilyn Keller is a singer who performs a diverse range of jazz, gospel, and musical theatre throughout Oregon and abroad and was voted into Oregon Jazz Society’s Hall of Fame 2016. She joined Black Swan Classic Jazz Band in 1997, and she has is active in a variety of ensembles and styles, singing with the Don Latarski Group, Darrell Grant’s The Territory, Thara Memory, Tall Jazz, Disciples in Song, and the Augustana Jazz Quartet among many others.
Ezra Weiss has recorded seven albums as a bandleader, most recently “Before You Know It,” recorded live in Portland and has written three musicals for Northwest Children’s Theater. He has led his own bands at major venues throughout the US including several week-long engagements at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club. He won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award three times and was listed in 2012 and 2013 DownBeat Critics Polls as a Rising Star Arranger. He currently teaches at Portland State University and holds a Bachelors in Jazz Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters in Jazz Piano from Queens College.
S. Renee Mitchell is an award-winning writer, multimedia artist, social justice advocate, and educator. Mitchell’s more than 25 years of journalism experience has groomed her exceptional communication, analytical and grant-writing skills, yet, she is also a community-grounded visionary. She is the 2015 Yolanda D. King Drum Major Award winner in recognition of dedicated community service; was the librettist of “Sherman: A Jazz Opera;” has published a novel, children’s story, and several small-press zines; and teaches writing to children as the leader of the Saturday Academy Social Justice Camp as well as many other Portland, Oregon institutions.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Kalimah Abioto makes films centered around dreams, sexuality, and the nexus between Black people, humans, freedom, and the natural-spirit worlds. She received her BA in Film and Video from Hollins University and is a co-creator, along with her four sisters, of The People Could Fly Project, a multimedia project documenting the dreams and stories of people in the African Diaspora. Abioto has worked with Afropop Worldwide, Holy Mojo, The Black Portlanders, Spirit Law Center, Diamond Law, and other groups.
Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble is a 12-piece jazz ensemble 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.
From Maxville to Vanport is supported by: