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KMHD's 2018 Montavilla Jazz Fest Guide


Summer has certainly made itself known in Portland — hello, 105 degree days! Thankfully, though, along with the heat comes the promise of great live jazz from Portland-based artists. The annual Montavilla Jazz Festival is back for its fifth season, and this year’s lineup is as exciting as ever, with performances from hometown heroes like pianist Randy Porter with vocalist Nancy King and keyboardist/Portland State music professor George Colligan — plus a whole lineup of youth performances. To sweeten the deal, most artists will be performing new, original material just for MJF. Here are the KMHD staff’s top recommendations. *

Keyboardist, composer and PSU professor George Colligan.

Keyboardist, composer and PSU professor George Colligan.

Courtesy of the artist.


Saturday, August 18


George Colligan | Other Barry
Lineup: George Colligan, keyboards; Enzo Irace, guitar; Micah Hummel, drums

Downbeat poll­winning pianist and Portland State professor George Colligan leads a powerhouse fusion trio and unleashes a new release on PJCE Records.

Bio: George Colligan is a New York–based pianist, organist, drummer, trumpeter, teacher, and bandleader who is one of the most compelling jazz artists of his generation. An award­winning composer (Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation grant recipient) and player ( Jazz Competition winner), Colligan is highly in demand as a sideman, having worked with players like Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, Buster Williams, and Lonnie Plaxico, incorporating showtunes to funk, free improvisation to twentieth­century classical. He has released twenty­four recordings; his latest CD on the Origin Label is called The Endless Mysteries. Colligan was on the faculty of the Juilliard School for two years and is currently an assistant professor at Portland State University. He is a member of Jack DeJohnette’s New Quintet.


Guitarist Ryan Meagher.

Guitarist Ryan Meagher.

Courtesy of the artist.

Ryan Meagher | Ryan Meagher’s Evil Twin
Lineup: Ryan Meagher and Mike Gamble, guitars; Tim Willcox, tenor sax; Lee Elderton, woodwinds; Charlie Doggett and Tim DuRoche, drums

Acclaimed for his compositional acumen, Ryan Meagher and his double trio spontaneously compose a set and celebrate their newest release.

Bio: Ryan Meagher (pronounced Marr), originally from San Jose, California, is a jazz guitarist and composer. His debut album Sun Resounding announced his arrival on the modern jazz scene. His third album, Tone, was recorded in New York City around his master’s studies at University of Nevada, Reno, and it received international critical acclaim.

After the completion of his master’s in music degree, Meagher relocated to Portland, Oregon, where he released Tango in the City of Roses. He is a cofounder and the programming director of the Montavilla Jazz Festival, among many other roles in the Portland jazz scene. His MJF 2018 set celebrates the release of his seventh album, Evil Twin.


Trumpeter (and KMHD DJ) Farnell Newton.

Trumpeter (and KMHD DJ) Farnell Newton.

Courtesy of the artist.


Farnell Newton | Evolution
Lineup: Farnell Newton, trumpet; Kyle Molitor, trombone; Charlie Brown III, piano; Peter Knudsen, bass; Tyrone Hendrix, drums

Revitalizing jazz, funk, and soul with a new twist, Farnell Newton has been stirring up a ton of noise in the Northwest music scene.

Bio: Trumpeter Farnell Newton is one of the most versatile musicians and educators in the Northwest, playing straight­ahead jazz, smooth jazz, Latin music, soul, hip­hop, funk, and more. When he is not teaching jazz at Portland State University or working with his youth jazz group, PDX Jazz Project, he is touring, recording, and sharing the stage with Skerik, Lettuce, Slightly Stoopid, Karl Denson, Galactic, Nigel Hall, sax man Mike Phillips, the DooDooFunk All­Stars, and many more.

In the last few years, Newton has been touring with three­time Grammy­winning singer/songwriter Jill Scott and with the legendary Bootsy Collins. In previous years, Newton has performed with Lalah Hathaway, Ron Isley, CeeLo Green, Fantasia, Gladys Knight, Charlie

Wilson, Chaka Khan, Najee, Will Downing, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, and many more.

For the Montavilla Jazz Festival, Newton will be debuting his latest set, Evolution, which merges jazz, soul, funk, and world music.


Sunday, August 19


Drummer Alan Jones.

Drummer Alan Jones.

Courtesy of the artist.


Alan Jones | Social Music
Lineup: Alan Jones, drums; Joe Manis, tenor sax; Randy Porter, piano; Jon Lakey, bass

Alan Jones’s Social Music aims to create a refreshing atmosphere of relaxed comradery, with music that is accessible and engaging for audiences.

Bio: With Pacific Northwest roots, Alan Jones has enjoyed a rich performing career both in Portland and across Europe. Beginning his touring career at just sixteen years old with Amsterdam­based organist Count Dutch, Jones has performed or recorded with local legends such as Jim Pepper and Ralph Towner and international phenomena like Kenny Wheeler and Lee Konitz. His own band, the Alan Jones Sextet, has recorded four albums and performs in Portland regularly.

In addition to maintaining a steady performing career, Jones has established himself as one of Portland’s premier jazz educators. Established 2007, the Alan Jones Academy of Music has gained a reputation of producing excellent musicians. Jones has pioneered a movement to make live music more accessible.


Drummer Christopher Brown.

Drummer Christopher Brown.

Courtesy of the artist.

Christopher Brown | Art of the Dialog
Lineup: Christopher Brown, drums; John Nastos, alto sax; George Colligan, piano; David Captein, bass

The busiest jazz group in Portland performs for the first time at Montavilla Jazz Festival, presenting a set that explores the dialogue between artist and audience.

Bio: Portland native Christopher Brown is once again a full­time Portland resident, performing at numerous venues in town. During his seventeen­year hiatus from Portland, he served four years in the Marine Corps, followed by fourteen years in the US Army. He earned two degrees in jazz studies from Rutgers University and taught there. Brown appeared in the movie American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe) and a music video with Beyoncé. He has toured with the Roy Hargrove Quintet and experienced a number of other notable performances with many of the greatest musicians in the world, including Wynton, Branford, and Delfeayo Marsalis, David Sanborn, Don Alias, Geoff Keezer, George Colligan, Benny Golson, John Patitucci, Ralph Bowen, Sean Jones, Ralph Peterson Jr., Charles Fambrough, Chuck Israels, Conrad Herwig, Randy Brecker, Paquito D’ Rivera, Jimmy Heath, Mel Brown, and Esperanza Spalding.


Pianist Randy Porter.

Pianist Randy Porter.

Rosaura Sandoval


Randy Porter | Randy Porter Trio with Nancy King
Lineup: Randy Porter, piano; Nancy King, vocals; John Wiitala, bass; Alan Jones, drums

Portland jazz master Randy Porter performs music from his Grammy­nominated album Porter Plays Porter, featuring Nancy King, and new music created for this MJF 2018 set.

Headliner Bio: Jazz pianist Randy Porter has a refined understanding of improvisation and the spontaneous communication among musicians. Lynn Darroch of the Oregonian has stated, “Porter has built a reputation as a musician’s musician, a knowledgeable, inventive, and sophisticated player with a remarkable sense of time and gorgeous keyboard facility.”

Nominated for the 60th Grammy Awards, Porter’s recent release Porter Plays Porter with Nancy King is a mix of swing, harmony, and lyrical adventure. In the spirit of Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson, King’s vocal stylings are interspersed with instrumental tracks featuring the Randy Porter Trio. John Wiitala on bass and Todd Strait on drums bring their wonderful swing skill set and intuition.

Porter currently performs with Charles McPherson, Madeline Eastman, the New York Voices, Rebecca Kilgore, and Nancy King. Bassist David Friesen’s 2001 Trio CD, Name of a Woman, received 4 stars from Downbeat in June of 2002 and featured Porter as pianist and composer.

Porter’s performance highlights include performing at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center with Diane Schuur, Seattle’s Jazz Alley with New York Voices, and the House of Blues in Chicago and BB King’s Blues Club in NYC with Gino Vannelli.

Porter has been a performer and educator at the Jazz Camp West, the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop, where he has coached many young jazz musicians. He teaches master classes and adjudicates student combos and bands at high school and college jazz festivals. Porter teaches jazz piano at Lewis & Clark College.

Nancy King has been called everything from a “cult figure” and an “uncompromising artist” (Earshot Jazz) to “the greatest living jazz singer” (Herb Ellis). As one of the few improvisers in vocal jazz to master the vocabulary, King has “indefatigable scat chops and a remarkably elastic range” (the Oregonian).


Youth Performances (All Weekend)


The student stage at Montavilla Jazzfest.

The student stage at Montavilla Jazzfest.

Kathryn Elsesser


 The PROWUS Student Stage in the Jazz Lounge showcases the best up and coming jazz students from various Portland area public and private jazz programs.

PROWUS (Portland Rock On With Us) is a non-profit organization that provides grants for students age 8 – 18 in the greater Portland, Oregon metro area who are pursuing extra-curricular music education.

Andres Moreno: Canvas

Canvas is a trio of Portland musicians whose jazz, rock, and classical influences combine to create a new, unique musical expression.

Lineup: Quinn Walker, trumpet; John Blewster, bass; Andres Moreno, drums

Nicole McCabe Trio

The Nicole McCabe trio tells stories through jazz standards and their original music. The group draws inspiration from wide array of musical periods and genres.

Lineup: Nicole McCabe, alto; Eric Marks, bass; Andres Moreno, drums

Innovation Project

The Innovation Project is a jazz trio organized by high school students from the Portland metropolitan area.

Lineup: Laz Glickman, piano; Finn Jones, bass; Andres Moreno, drums

Jake Khawaja Trio

Jake Khawaja Trio performs original arrangements of jazz standards.

Lineup: Jake Khawaja, piano; Nathan Dwornicki, bass; Michael Rodenkirch, drums

Michael Tran Quintet

The Michael Tran Quintet features the most promising students to emerge out of the storied Mt. Hood Community College jazz program in recent years.

Lineup: Michael Tran, saxophone; Joseph Ten Eyck, piano; Thor Johnson, guitar; Wyatt Unger, bass; Noah Adams, drums

Portland Youth Jazz Sextet

The Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra is Oregon’s largest Jazz Program! PYJO has trained musicians from the Portland Metro Area since 2001. Many alumni have attend prestigious music schools across the country on scholarship. Many have continued in music or music education.

Lineup: Giancarlo Viviano, trumpet; Ryan DeHaven, tenor sax; Alex Rodriguez, trombone; Emanuel Heller, guitar; Harrison Richter, bass; Michael Rodenkirch, drums

Metropolitan Youth Symphony Jazz

MYS provides music education and performance opportunities for young musicians of all ages and levels of experience. MYS is one of the largest youth orchestra programs in the nation and one of only a handful offering a jazz program.

Lineup: Amanda Moore, trumpet; Lucas Wobig, tenor sax; Jake Khawaja, piano; Madeleine Riley, guitar; Gabe Porter, bass; Junha Lee, drums