Emerging jazz artist Esperanza Spalding will serve as artistic and community ambassador for the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival presented by U.S. Bank.
Esperanza Spalding at the Newport Jazz Festival
The world-famous bassist, vocalist, composer and bandleader officially picks up the PDX Jazz mantle Oct. 14 at the kick-off press conference for the 2011 festival, which will be held Feb. 18 - 27 in downtown Portland.
Spalding, 25, who grew up in the King neighborhood, briefly attended King Elementary School and the Northwest Academy. She was largely home-schooled and self-taught on multiple instruments, although her talents were strengthened by years of study with the Portland Chamber Music Society and the Berklee College of Music.
"I feel blessed to be able to come back to my home town which has offered me so much inspiration and nourished me and my artistic pursuits," Spalding says. "I am looking forward to sharing what I can offer to the Portland arts community."
Spalding, who was home-schooled for most her youth, left high school to obtain her GED before attending Portland State University on a music scholarship. When she left Portland to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she had played with the Chamber Music Society for ten years and served as concert master.
At Berklee, Spalding became one of the youngest professors ever, hired immediately after her graduation. She soon won gigs with touring jazz artists including Patti Austin and Joe Lovano.
Spalding has released two solo albums, Esperanza, and Junjo, as well as sitting in on recordings with Stanley Clarke and others.
Spalding will work on community outreach and will return to Portland Feb. 25 for a performance at the Newmark Theatre inside the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.
Among her community activities will be participation in the festival's centerpiece education event sponsored by the Portland Trail Blazers, The Incredible Journey of Jazz, a week-long middle-school program celebrating Black History Month curated by Spalding's former Portland State University professor, Darrell Grant.
"We could not be more pleased to have Esperanza involved with our festival, and to be an integral part of the PDX Jazz team," says artistic director Bill Royston.
"Her ongoing roles will be to both consult with us artistically and to assist in providing new directions in future programming, as well as for Esperanza to return to her Portland roots and generate new community outreach opportunities," Royston says. "Her presence in re-connecting with local musicians and educators will serve as a vital component to future planning."