01 June 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

I've returned from Portland. I had a great week, including an interesting Wednesday evening at Jimmy Mak's. I showed up a little early for the Mel Brown Quartet's set, and walked in on the final tune of the Beaumont Middle School jazz band, which was playing a fundraiser at the club during the early set. Though my expectations were low, I must say, those kids can play. They were well above the level of my middle school band, for sure. Some of the soloists have even started developing individual personalities. Once the kids cleared out at 9:30 (by law), Mel Brown took the stage and laid down some delightful hard bop. Brown won my everlasting favor when he played an entire solo on his high hat and cymbals late in the set. Here's a sample of the Quartet in action, playing pianist Tony Pacini's Blues for El Cid:

That was the extent of my jazz activities during the trip, but I also wanted to share a few murals I saw at the Kennedy School, a former Northeast Portland middle school that closed in the 1970s and was later bought by the McMenamins company, which converted the facilities into a brewery, bar, restuarant, and hotel (the beer is wonderful, I recommend the Hammerhead Pale Ale and Sunflower IPA). The grounds were decorated by local artists, and the main entryway to the school featured a pair of murals facing each other on opposite walls, one of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong (above), the other of Lester Young and Billie Holiday (below).

I have one more thing to share with you from my trip, coming later in the week. Until then, I'll be cleaning my house, which somehow did not clean itself while I was gone...

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