The free Cathedral Park Jazz Festival [CPJF] featuring local jazz, blues, soul and Latin artists will be back in Cathedral Park under the historic St Johns Bridge in North Portland for the 41st year of the festival on Friday, July 16, Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18, 2021.
Oregonians Credit Union is this year’s presenting sponsor, and the organizer is the Jazz Society of Oregon (JSO).
Friday, July 16 is dedicated to blues performers, starting at 4:30 p.m., closing at 10 p.m. On Saturday, July 17, Portland State University’s Collective Combo kicks off the program at 1:00 p.m. and Soul singer/songwriter Jarrod Lawson closes the evening, which ends 9:45 p.m. Sunday, July 18, begins with members of the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra at 1:00 p.m. and concludes with a Rose City favorite, Soul Vaccination.
“This is the 41st consecutive year of the festival, which was started by a group of volunteers seeking to commemorate the construction of spectacular Cathedral Park,” said Rita Rega, chair of the CPJF Programming committee. “Because we had to live-stream the festival last year, this year’s event is a continuation of that landmark 40th year, and we are celebrating with one of the strongest lineups we’ve ever had.”
COVID-19 policies to be posted
“We will be establishing COVID-19 policies and protocols,” noted festival manager Yvonne Lerch. “For the first time, entry will be regulated. Masks must be worn while waiting to enter the festival, although they may be removed once you are seated. Social distancing of at least 6 feet from groups in front of you is recommended. Because the festival is held outdoors, there is abundant space to allow for adequate social distancing, while still enjoying excellent views of the entertainment stage,” Lerch added.
COVID-19 rules will be posted on the festival website: https://jazzoregon.org.
Keep it free: volunteers, sponsors, donations needed
To help keep the festival free, the CPJF planning committee is still seeking donations, community sponsors, and volunteers. Sponsors and anyone wishing to reserve a VIP “chalet” may contact the planning committee by emailing [email protected].
Volunteers may sign up by emailing [email protected] and donations can be made at www.jazzoregon.org/donate.
Friday evening, July 16, 2021
- 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Steve Cheseborough, 2004 finalist in the International Blues Competition, plays harmonica, guitar, percussion, sings, and tells stories.
- 6:00-7:00 p.m.: Sonny Hess, Lady Kat and the Smokin’ True Blue quartet. Sonny was the first woman nominated for “Best Lead Guitar” by the Cascade Blues association, and Lady Kat Trotter’s rich, full-bodied voice has been compared to Etta James’.
- 7:30-8:30 p.m.: Fenix Rising is a soulful R&B band led by saxophonist/vocalist Fenix Sanders. He is backed by a smooth rhythm section.
- 9:00-10:00 p.m.: Lloyd Jones with The Atlas Horns. Oregon Music Hall of Fame winner Lloyd "Have Mercy" Jones will perform "Swampified American Music" songs from a brand-new recording "Tennessee Run.”
Saturday afternoon & evening, July 17, 2021
- 1:00-2:00 p.m.: Portland State University’s Collective Combo includes some of the brightest future jazz stars emerging from a much-lauded jazz education program.
- 2:30-3:30 pm..: Michael Raynor Quartet – Chicago drummer, who spent more than 20 years backing tenor Von Freeman, now calls Portland home.
- 4:00-5:00 p.m.: Andrew Oliver Trio - Returning from seven years in London, Oliver brings his 1920s-style jazz and stride piano to the festival, accompanied by clarinetist/saxophonist David Evans and drummer Tyson Stubelek. Together their music spans 1920s stomps to 1930s swing tunes.
- 5:30-6:30 p.m.: Melao de Cuba – Led by Cuban-American lead singer and percussionist, Virginia Lopez, Melao de Cuba fuses Afro-Cuban Rumbas, Latin Jazz, Chachachá, Spanish Flamenco, Boleros, and other Afro-Cuban influenced rhythms to create spirited, highly danceable music.
- 7:00-8:00 p.m.: Korgy & Bass - Rare live performance of the eclectic duo of Barra Brown and Alex Meltzer, who inhabit the “other-world” between hip-hop and jazz. They are joined by New Orleans-trained trumpeter Cyrus Nabipoor and Sam Arnold, out of Austin’s electronic music scene.
- 8:30-9:45 p.m.: Jarrod Lawson - Composer, keyboardist, and singer, Lawson is heavily inspired by Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway and incorporates social and spiritual messages into his uplifting sound.
Sunday afternoon and evening July 18, 2021
- 1:00-2:00 p.m.: Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra is Oregon’s largest private jazz program, founded by multi-instrumentalists Ben Medler and Michelle Medler. The Jake Khawaja Trio is representing the PYJO, with Khawaja on piano, Michael Rodenkirch on drums, and PYJO director Ben Medler on bass.
- 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Tony Pacini Trio - As a teenager, Pacini was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. One of Portland’s most popular pianists, his style is reminiscent of Hampton Hawes. Joining him on bass is Ed Bennett, who toured and recorded with Carmen McRae, and on drums Tim Rapp.
- 4:00-5:00 p.m.: Julianne Johnson with the Ron Steen Quartet. Acclaimed singer, actress, director, and producer, Johnson is Portland Community College’s co-chair of the Music Department. Here she is backed by veteran Portland drummer and bandleader, Ron Steen.
- 5:30-6:30 p.m.: 500 Miles High (A Tribute to Chick Corea) – To honor one of the most important figures in jazz history and a virtuosic keyboardist, CPJF organizers put together a group consisting of Ramsey Embick, one of Portland’s most versatile pianists, bassist Tim Gilson, woodwind player Tim Jensen, and drummer Michael Raynor. Ramsey was music director and band leader for the Pointer Sisters.
- 7:00-8:15 p.m.: Soul Vaccination – A fixture of the Northwest music scene for over 20 years, Soul Vaccination will close the festival with the greatest soul standards.
Background - Cathedral Park Jazz Festival
This year marks the 41st consecutive year of the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, managed for the past seven years by the Jazz Society of Oregon.
“This is a free, non-profit festival that provides the best in jazz music, blues, Latin, and soul from around the greater Portland/Vancouver community,” said Rega. “In fact, the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is both the longest-running free annual jazz festival west of the Mississippi – and Portland’s longest-running annual community event.”
About the Jazz Society of Oregon
The Jazz Society of Oregon is an all-volunteer non-profit organization 501(c)(3) whose mission is to promote the local jazz scene in Portland and the rest of Oregon. The Society supports jazz education and local charities, as well as fostering a greater appreciation of this thoroughly American art form.
Information on the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, including news on sponsorships, volunteer opportunities, and the performers can be found at https://jazzoregon.org/.