Twenty-fifth anniversaries of any sort are to be celebrated and enjoyed.
Portland trumpet maker Dave Monette not only knows how to make highly sought after, hand-crafted trumpets, flugelhorns and flumpets — a melding of the two — he knows how to throw a party.
Monette invited a couple of hundred or so of his closest friends to a Wednesday afternoon concert party right in his workshop, near the Portland International Airport. The musician list included symphony and philharmonic trumpeters from Stockholm, Sweden and Boston, as well as jazz players from locations across the United States. The celebration actually got underway on Monday with brief performances by the classical players.
For many, however, Wednesday afternoon was filled with crowning moments. Backed by a tight rhythm section of pianist Randy Porter, bassist Tim Gilson and drummer Gary Hobbs, trumpeter Ron Miles enchanted listeners with his linear playing style. His thoughtful solo construction consistently made great use of silence.
New Orleans native Marlon Jordan, known for his clean boppish lines laced with power, is also a devotee of Monette horns. He stood before this select audience and played with a passionate fire based on his knowledge of the trumpet tradition. When finished, his shirt was drenched in sweat from his work.
Finally, it was time for the star — Wynton Marsalis. He was in town with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, scheduled to perform later that evening at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
Marsalis didn't disappoint, sharply dressed from his brown suede shoes on up, he swung like a young jazz lion and delivered ballads like the solid veteran he is. He got up close to the audience and because he was on the floor playing – there was no stage — he was within easy reach of those in the front row.
The evening performance of the LCJO was flawless. Surprisingly, it performed just three Duke Ellington compositions. Sorry! I was so enthralled with the music, I didn't take many notes. The biggest audience reaction came at the end of saxophonist Joe Temperley's performance on bass clarinet. He and pianist Dan Nimmer turned in a five-star, superb duo version of Ellington's "Single Petal of a Rose," from his "Queen Suite." One of the most interesting selections was "Braggin' in Brass" — which Marsalis introduced — saying it was a challenge to the three trombonists: Chris Crenshaw, Vincent Gardner and Elliot Mason.
Marsalis said, "Duke recorded this tune once and he, Marsalis, doubted whether the Ellington band ever played it again. The three LCJO bone players pulled it off, playing the tricky staccato phrases impeccably, and the trumpet section responded in kind. The appreciative crowd roared its approval.
It was a happy group of listeners who re-entered the balmy Portland evening that night on Broadway.
Dick Bogle is a jazz radio DJ on 89.1 KMHD. He can be reached at email@example.com.