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By Brian Stimson of The Skanner News
Published: 10 September 2009

David Ornette Cherry

After a three month test run, jazz musician David Ornette Cherry is bringing back the 'Round Midnight live music series. A musical variety act of sorts, Cherry's late-night music series featured everything from the sounds of Thara Memory to the poetry of Renee Mitchell. And after taking a two-month hiatus, Cherry has a lineup of entertainers from across the musical spectrum for his now monthly show.
Held at the Curious Comedy theater, Cherry's show will offer a live music venue for late-night entertainment. The Los Angeles transplant says he grew weary of discovering late night establishments only to find they featured nothing but booze and conversation.
"I couldn't find any late night music," he said. "It's really for the neighborhood people," he told The Skanner. "And it's not just a jazz thing, we have a whole world of music.
The September 19 'Round Midnight show will feature Cherry and a performance from Obo Addy beginning at 11:30 p.m.
A piano player raised in Watts, Cherry is the son of jazz musician Don Cherry. Although he's been in town for only a year, he's been able to connect with longtime area musicians Thara Memory, Ron Steen and others.
Living for a time in Europe, Cherry said his father taught him the importance of getting to know a city's music community – and the importance of helping to create that community.
Cherry hopes the 'Round Midnight series can help cultivate a new appreciation for the "after hours" jazz club of yesteryear. The area from Broadway to Killingsworth along Williams Avenue was long known as a center for jazz clubs and dance halls in the early half of the 20th century. When the shipyards and other industrial operations kept around-the-clock shifts, it was possible to catch a drink and some live music at nearly any hour of the day in Northeast Portland.
For the first few months of 'Round Midnight, Cherry has already lined up Ron Steen and Tony Lincoln, the Quadraphonnes and Rod Nightingale. He said he hopes to get more artists involved.
There's another catch for the concerts – Cherry is going to divert some of the proceeds to the Jefferson High School music program, or at least what's left of it. A teaching position he held there last year was lost to budget cuts this year. He doesn't know if or when he'll be able to return to the school.
If enough money is raised, he wants to provide scholarships for music lessons for the students who will no longer have a formal music class. Money from the first series of 'Round Midnight raised enough money to purchase an electronic keyboard and pay for lessons, for one student from Jefferson.
"It makes a community strong," he said. "You gotta start these kids out with music."

The Curious Comedy Theater is located at 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. For more details about upcoming 'Round Midnight shows visit www.roundmidnitepdx.com


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