Angela Allen

Dee Dee Bridgewater Portland Jazz Festival 2012

Dee Dee Bridgewater at Portland Jazz Festival 2012

Portland Jazz Festival 2012: Bridgewater honors Billie Holiday (aka Eleanora Fagan)

Originally Published on Oregon Music News February 21, 2012

Dee Dee Bridgewater, as huge a name in jazz vocals as Roy Haynes’ is in drumming, is doing more than headlining the 2012 Portland Jazz Festival.

She is honoring Lady Day, aka Billie Holiday, one of jazz’s pioneering singers and influences. Read More

“Madame Butterfly” at Portland Opera

‘Madame Butterfly’ waits on the hill

Originally Published on Oregon ArtsWatch Review February 7, 2012

Giacomo Puccini created stunning music and synched it precisely with unfolding drama. He drew characters with staying power — after he revised and revised. Even world-weary music critics love his work, and love it over again when the opera is well done. Madame Butterfly, winding up this week with final Portland Opera performances Thursday and Saturday at the Keller Auditorium, sold out both previous performances this week because the piece is among the best-known and beloved in the canon, but also because it has heartbreakingly lyrical music, a heartbreaking story — and because of Butterfly. She is a helluva character. She’s tough. She’s sweet. She’s complex. Read More

Peter Yarrow with guitar

Q&A with Peter Yarrow in Portland

Peter Yarrow. the Peter in Peter, Paul and Mary, revisits Portland, politics and Pete Seeger music

Originally Published on Oregon Music News January 18, 2012

Peter Yarrow of the former culture-shaping Peter, Paul and Mary still sings, still protests, and still believes in music’s power to change the world. Read More

3 Cohens at Portland Jazz Festival 2011

3 Cohens at Portland Jazz Festival 2011

Exuberant 3 Cohens exhibit chops, stage passion and filial harmony in Portland

Originally Published on Oregon Music News February 27, 2011

There was exuberance – the kind among families who all know the same joke — Saturday afternoon on the Crystal Ballroom. stage as the 3 Cohens lit up the big, airy Portland music space with their new-wave originals and updated standards. A new, and yet unnamed CD, will follow soon, and it was clear some of the pieces we heard came from that. Read More

SF JAZZ at Portland Jazz Festival 2011

SF JAZZ at Portland Jazz Festival 2011

SF JAZZ Collective premieres Stevie Wonder in all its wonder

Originally Published on Oregon Music News February 27, 2011

How were we to know that Portland would be the first audience to hear SF JAZZ Collective’s interpretation of the great Stevie Wonder, who as vibes man Stefon Harris says, “played the sound track of my life.” Read More

Gary Houston’s Music Posters

Gary Houston’s clever hand-pulled music posters keep Voodoo Catbox hoppin’

Originally published in Oregon Music News

Gary Houston has been hand-pulling silkscreen collectibles since he began Voodoo Catbox in 1995 in Portland. It was born from his 8-year-old graphic design and screen-printing business, so he was poised to find a place in the rock ‘n’ roll poster world. He doesn’t use a computer. He does everything by hand – from lettering to drawing to silk-screening. Many of his posters go for $30, but some bring in $450. He’s sold one piece for $600. The Chinese invented screen-printing 2000 years ago, he says, and nothing much about the craft has changed. He calls the work hands-on, physical, creative and romantic. “It’s leaving a little bit of history.” Read More

Valerie Day and John Smith of Nu Shooz

Valerie Day talks about the refreshed Nu Shooz and the new CD — ‘Pandora’s Box’

Oregon Music News CD Review of "Pandora's Box"

Originally Published on Oregon Music News September 9, 2010

Portland’s long-lived and much-loved Nu Shooz has turned its band into an orchestra and its musical talents to its newly released CD, “Pandora’s Box,” a mix of tunes described as “James Bond meets James Brown.” Expect a lot more than that — including a honeyed version of the 1955 jazz standard, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.”

ndeed the recording is packed with surprises, musical leaps and 14 tunes, many originals by Nu Shooz’ songwriter John Smith, who happens to be lead singer Valerie Day’s husband. Day is the face and the voice of the two-decades-plus-old group, who burst on the scene with its breakthrough mid-‘80s hit, “I Can’t Wait.” An anniversary edition of that song is the final cut on the new CD.

I talked with Day to find out what’s up with the new and the old Shooz. Read More

Tony Starlight

A Day In the Nightlife: Tony Starlight’s Supper Club

Oregon Music News Review of Tony Starlight's Supper Club

Originally published on Oregon Music News August 10, 2010

Tony Starlight’s Supperclub & Lounge, 3728 N.E. Sandy Blvd., hunkers down in a fitting location — Hollywood. The one in Portland, not the place with the big sign on the hill near LA.

Nee and aka Brett Kucera, Tony Starlight opened his namesake place in January 2007, determined to bring Portland a nostalgic entertainment venue it didn’t have. Not a jazz club, a New York City-style piano bar, high-end resto, nor a concert hall, his room would be a supper club with a variety show, starring himself as Dino, Tom Jones, Frankie, Neil Diamond and made-up characters. He’d make people laugh, connect with the audience, get to know the community — at least the ones who showed up at his nightclub.

What’s odd is that by now the club has become all of those things. Read More

Review of Seattle Opera’s “Amelia”

Seattle's world premiere "Amelia" takes off with grace

Originally published on, May 31, 2010

Seattle Opera lacked a crucial element since lauded general director Speight Jenkins has run the show for 27 years. Until now, he has never commissioned an opera.

With Amelia, which made its elaborate two-hour world premiere in May, operagoers should have even firmer confidence in Jenkins' vision. Beginning in 2002, when he sorted through contemporary composers' works with director Stephen Wadsworth, settling on Daron Aric Hagen's music, he never looked back from his original intention to make an American opera with American themes. Read More

Beach sings in sweet Portuguese

Oregon Music News CD review of "Brasil Beat"

Originally published on Oregon Music News, May 31, 2010

Lucky for us, Bill Beach rose from the dead Benson Hotel's basement and went to Brazil.
This spring the pianist released his energetic Brasil Beat (yes, Brazilians spell it that way) on his label, Axial Records. Six of the 12 tracks feature Beach's breathy baritone-bass shaping original Portuguese lyrics. Cross-checked with Portuguese linguists, the lyrics are precisely articulated and beautifully phrased. Beach is a stickler for details and authenticity, as relaxed as his vocals sound. Read More