The annual PDX Jazz Festival is known for its inventive thematic programming, and this year’s installment doesn’t disappoint. It’s called “Bridges and Boundaries: Jewish and African Americans Playing Jazz.” The idea is to highlight the contributions and conversations that the two groups have brought to jazz.
We’ll explore all of this, and listen to the results, on the show.
We’ll be joined by the festival’s artistic director, Bill Royston, along with two musicians whose biographies are perfect illustrations of the festival’s theme. Don Byron is a pre-eminent jazz clarinetist with a storied — and varied — career. He’s also an African American with a deep affinity for klezmer. Anat Cohen, also a reed player, is a rising star in the international jazz scene. She lives in New York now, but was born in Israel.
They all talk about music as a sphere of cultural cross-fertilization, a universalizing language that both celebrates and transcends difference. Have you played jazz — or another form of music — with people from different backgrounds? What experience have you had making or sharing art across cultures? What are the challenges, and the rewards?