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Portland's Montavilla Jazz Brings Music To Your Front Door

Trumpeter Charlie Porter and bassist John Lakey perform in May 2021.
Trumpeter Charlie Porter and bassist John Lakey perform in May 2021.

At the heart of any successful jazz enterprise is a spirit of resourcefulness. It's what leads an improviser to navigate a tricky passage, or a bandleader toward fresh ideas. And on the eastside of Portland, Ore. back in 2014, it's what led a few enterprising souls to create the Montavilla Jazz Festival — an event whose DIY mindset extends to the musicians on the bill.

Charlie Porter is one such artist: a trumpeter and composer with an instinct for making things happen. Impeccably trained at Juilliard and the Paris Conservatory, mentored by Wynton Marsalis (among others), he spent several years contributing mightily to the Portland scene — and to the Montavilla Jazz Festival, which featured him with his band in 2019.

In this episode of Jazz Night, we'll hear highlights from that set — including a piece called "The Unexpected," which aptly describes what has happened since. When the coronavirus pandemic ground life to a halt in Portland, Montavilla Jazz started up a series of musical house calls, like a bop-literate form of the old singing telegram.

Porter was among those who showed up to play on people's doorsteps, and we'll ride along with him as he does. "It's really cultivating that community-driven aspect of the music," he says of the festival's efforts, "to where it's not just a tourist thing — where it's celebrating this awesome local scene that we have in Portland."

Musicians: Charlie Porter, trumpet; Joe Manis, tenor saxophone; Greg Goebel, piano; John Lakey, bass; Alan Jones, drums

"Going Viral" comes from Charlie Porter's Hindsight (2021) and features Charlie Porter, trumpet; Jimmie Herrod, vocals; Nick Biello, keyboards; Orrin Evans, piano/keyboards; David Wong, bass; Kenneth Salters, drums

All music written by Charlie Porter

Set List:

  • Messenger
  • Divergent Paths
  • Contradictions Within
  • Immigration Nation
  • The Unexpected
  • Going Viral
  • Credits: Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Recording Engineer: Rick Gordon and Patrick Brewer; Mixing Engineer, David Tallacksen; Field Recordist, Meg Samples; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand

    Special thanks to Matt Fleeger at OPB and Kim Gumbel.

    Copyright 2021 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.