Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble and Third Rail Repertory Theatre present the concert production of D’Zama: The Musical Vagabond

D’Zama: The Musical Vagabond probes the life of the unsung Oregonian remarkably ahead of her time!

In 2022, Portland writer Sarah Smith and her husband, conductor Raul Gomez Rojas, were offered a dozen boxes of what they assumed were a collection of musical scores. What they discovered instead was an estate’s worth of manuscripts and collectibles, including the self-published autobiography of D’Zama Murielle (1901 – 1985), an Oregon woman who lived an extraordinary life.

Murielle studied conducting under Toscanini. She led the Portland Women’s Symphony Orchestra at a time when women were hardly afforded the opportunity to play in professional orchestras, let alone conduct them. She hopped trains to apply for distant conducting jobs and once biked to Chicago. She toured across the states and throughout Europe with a collection of musical instruments from around the world, teaching students music history and how to play.

She was wildly prolific and clearly ahead of her time. Smith wondered, “ Why wasn’t D’Zama Murielle a heralded figure? Why hadn’t she made a lasting mark or become a notable figure in Oregon history?” Smith and a team of collaborators from PJCE and TRRT — composer Owen Broder, lyricist Ben Tissell, music director Ryan Meagher, and director Isaac Lamb — set out to create a new jazz musical that would probe these questions and consider the legacies we leave, and those we lose.

Inspired by the life of the free-spirited and pioneering spirit of the little-known Oregon musician D’Zama Murielle, the concert production will feature the TRRT cast alongside PJCE’s 12-member ensemble. The May 3rd concert production of D’Zama serves as a preview to an upcoming 4-week run of a full production of the musical by TRRT and PJCE.


Friday, May 3rd, 2024

Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: MHCC College Theater, 26000 SE Stark Street, Gresham


About the Creators

Ben Tissell, Ryan Meagher, Owen Broder, Sarah Smith, and Isaac Lamb

Ryan Meagher (Music Director), 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.

Meagher is an established guitarist in Portland’s jazz community and is also known for his roles as a co-founder and Programming Director of Montavilla Jazz, PJCE’s Director of Operations and Director of PJCE Records, an editor of Jazzscene Magazine, as well as in his role as an educator with Mt Hood Community College, University of Portland, Lower Columbia College, and with Metropolitan Youth Symphony.

Sarah is a writer, actor, and collaborator making Portland, Oregon her home. Sarah believes in the powerful fusion of artistic disciplines and its potential to distill the truth, hope and wonder of the human experience. Favorite collaborations include projects with the Oregon Symphony, Oregon International Ballet Academy, International Children’s Art Network, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Seed New Orleans, Compleat Stage, Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, CoHo Productions (Portland), Gainesville Theatre Alliance, New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, and Swine Palace (Baton Rouge). Favorite roles played include Eliza (The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence) Rita (Educating Rita), Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Nora (A Doll’s House). In addition to her work in theatre, Sarah‘s TV credits include Into the Badlands (AMC), American Horror Story (FOX) and Treme (HBO)

Owen Broder (Composer) is a member of the GRAMMY® nominated Anat Cohen Tentet and has performed with internationally respected artists such as Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project, Miho Hazama, the Ulysses Owens, Jr. Big Band, and YouTube sensation Postmodern Jukebox. He earned the title 2018 Debut Artist of the Year from NPR’s Francis Davis and was included on DownBeat Magazine’s 2023 Critics Poll as a Rising Star Alto Saxophonist. His six albums as a band leader have received national recognition. An award-winning composer and arranger, Broder has received commissioned projects from the U.S. Air Force Band in Europe, the Airmen of Note, two off-Broadway shows, and the Winchester Symphonic Winds. A resident of Portland since 2021, Broder teaches core jazz courses at Portland State University and saxophone lessons at Pacific University, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble.

Ben Tissell (Lyricist) is an actor, director, and writer based in Portland. Locally he has appeared onstage at Portland Center Stage, Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Repertory, Broadway Rose, and others. His performances have been praised by American Theatre Magazine, BroadwayWorld, Artswatch, and The Oregonian. Ben also serves as Artistic Director at George Fox University theatre, where he is also an acting professor. More of Ben’s music, poetry, and performances can be found at BenTissell.com

Isaac Lamb (Director) is a directing graduate of Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television and a Company Member of Third Rail Repertory Theatre. Favorite directing projects include: The Music Man, Arlington, The Angry Brigade, and Annapurna (Third Rail); Hair and The Bells That Still Can Ring (Portland Center Stage); Once, Fly By Night, Ordinary Days, and the world premiere of Loch Lomond (Broadway Rose); Grounded and the world premiere of db (CoHo); Mother Teresa is Dead (Portland Playhouse); Junie B. Jones and Ivy and Bean (Oregon Children’s Theatre); The Wizard of Oz (PHAME); Ordo Virtutum (In Mulieribus). Isaac was the resident director for the National Tour and Las Vegas productions of Defending the Caveman, Broadway’s longest running one-man show, and he remains an actor, educator, and filmmaker. Proud member SDC. isaaclamb.com




The Gresham campus of Mt. Hood Community College welcomes guests to travel to us by TriMet, a Silver Sponsor of the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. There is ample parking onsite.

Those attending shows in the College Theatre or any of the student stages can find parking through Entrances C, D, or E on Kane Rd./257th. Click here to access a campus map.

Festival attendees may also choose to use local rideshare services Uber and Lyft and can be dropped off at the door.

Festival Entry Policies

Your ticket allows one entry to the festival. If you have questions prior to the festival, please email mthoodjazzfestival@mhcc.edu. If you have questions during the festival, please visit our information tables.

While Inside the Festival

Please be Courteous to Fellow Fans and Musicians During Performances and:

  • Silence your cell phones
  • Do not use flash photography or record video with your phone or other device.
  • Be mindful of the volume of conversations
  • Do not block the view of other audience members.
  • Actively listen to performances

No Smoking Policy

Smoking and vaping are not permitted on college grounds.

First Aid

The MHCC Public Safety addresses all medical first aid needs and incidents on campus. They are available by calling 503-491-7310 for non-emergencies and 503-491-7911 to report any crime, medical emergencies, suspicious activity, or traffic collisions on campus.

People With Disabilities

MHCC is an AA, EEO, Title IX, Title VI, Title VII, Title II, Section 504, ADA, ORS 659A Institution. People requiring accommodations due to a disability should contact the festival at mthoodjazzfestival@mhcc.edu. Please call at least two weeks prior to the event.

A limited amount of ADA parking spaces are available. Parking is first-come, first-served.