The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble has released more information about its year-long project to feature the history of black Americans in Oregon.
As announced in last week’s Chieftain, the group received an $80,000 grant from Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights program to create a new concert of original songs and video inspired by the stories of the multicultural populations of Maxville and Vanport.
Additional aspects include readings by Fishtrap, workshops and a performance that coincides with the Vanport Mosaic Festival, May 26-27, 2018 in Portland.
The multi-aspect concert tour includes community discussion events in Portland and Joseph this fall and a performance tour to La Grande, Enterprise and Baker City in April 2018, culminating with the performance at the Vanport Mosaic Festival.
Vanport was the nation’s largest wartime housing developments, a site for social innovation, a lightning rod for racial prejudice and the scene of one of Oregon’s major disasters.
A studio album and a short documentary film will also be produced.
A performance of the work in progress will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph.
The Joseph event will feature a short talk about Maxville by Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center Executive Director Gwen Trice; a short talk about Vanport by project vocalist Marilyn Keller; and a performance of an original song with lyrics by S. Renee Mitchell, featuring Keller, with composer Ezra Weiss at the piano.
After the performance, the remainder of the event will be dedicated to an open conversation about the project and the histories that will inspire it, with Trice, Keller, Mitchell and video artist Kalimah Abioto.
Admission is free.
Those with personal ties to descendants of loggers of all ethnicities who worked at Maxville especially are encouraged to attend, as well as anyone with a particular interest in Oregon history or jazz.
The 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.
The mission of the group is 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.