Angela Allen

Maria Schneider Orchestra and Kneebody: Many voices, one vision

PDX Jazz Festival opening weekend bands share fondness for diverse influences. But there’s one big difference.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2017

“I have always loved a lot of different kinds of music,” Maria Schneider said in February from her Manhattan apartment where she’s lived for decades. In her multiple Grammy-winning jazz orchestra’s music, “the colors and forms and textures come from classical, flamenco, and Brazilian influences.” They’re tied together. “I love melody,”… Read More

Photo of Corrine Winters as Violetta. Photo by Philip Newton.

Seattle Opera’s ‘La Traviata’: Stripped-down tragedy

Shorn of lavish accoutrements and other inessentials, revelatory 21st century production gains force and focus

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2017

There is nowhere to hide in this Traviata. Running only an hour and 50 minutes, German director Peter Konwitschny’s spare version, playing through January 28 at Seattle Opera, focuses keenly and persistently on its characters, on Giuseppe Verdi’s lush and ever-building music, and on the extreme emotions surrounding dying Violetta. She has struggled,… Read More

Kamasi Washington preview: Epic jazz

Expansive album vaults Los Angeles jazz saxophonist and bandleader to wider fame, but he's more concerned with spirituality than celebrity

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch November 2016.

Kamasi Washington has so charmed and befuddled music writers that some rely on the word “celebrity” to describe him. And a celebrity is rare thing in the tiny jazz world. Named for the capital of Ashanti, the West African pre-colonial kingdom that is now Ghana, Washington hasn’t won a Grammy… Read More

Catherine Russell preview: Artful swing from the ground up

Renowned jazz singer's new album is grounded in her Harlem roots

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2016

“Some people feel music from the top down; they’re not hip-shakers. They like the violins and long tones,” Catherine Russell, 60, said from her downtown Manhattan home in late September. “Some of us are more rooted in the ground. We hear it from the ground up. Music makes me want… Read More

Renee Fleming

Renée Fleming review: Queen of the Night

Star soprano’s concert with the Oregon Symphony covers a wide range of vocal riches

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2016

During the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Renée Fleming worked her way, in part, through State University of New York at Potsdam, and later at the Juilliard School, by singing jazz gigs. Saxophonist Illinois Jacquet thought she was good enough to tour with his big band when she was a… Read More

Raul Midón preview: Uncontainable talent

"Badass and Blind" New Mexico singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter's vast musical range can't be boxed in

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2016

Put Raul Midón in a box and he’ll jump right out. Songwriter, instrumentalist, mouth-musician, soul singer, jazz improvisor, Latin songster, guitarist, baritone. None of those identifiers works alone to define his musical strengths. He is all, and more of them, and there’s no box that will contain him. His ribbons… Read More

Aleksandra Romano as Isabella with Taddeo

Portland Opera’s ‘Italian Girl’: Topsy turvy playground

Wacky production gives Rossini’s bubbly East-West comic tale contemporary appeal

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Pizza, bathing suits, peeping-Tom camels, selfie-sticks, a chorus dressed in modest underwear and a ruler in a loin cloth were among wacky details in Portland Opera’s The Italian Girl in Algiers (L’Italiana in Algeri) at its July 22 premiere in Portland’s Newmark Theatre. These contemporary comic touches enlivened Gioachino… Read More

The Emerson Quartet honors the Haydn-Beethoven link

Chamber Music Northwest's examination of Beethoven continues with the Emerson Quartet

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

If any group can make us hear how radical and innovative Ludwig van Beethoven’s music is, it’s the Emerson String Quartet, a regular at Chamber Music Northwest. This year marks their 11th season at the summer festival; they’ll be back for more Portland concerts throughout 2016-17. The group… Read More

CMNW: The Orion takes on Schubert and Beethoven

The Orion Quartet passes the challenges of "Death and the Maiden" and a late Beethoven quartet

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Orion is among the sky’s brightest constellations. You can see it with the naked eye, especially when the stars shine on its belt. In its 12th year at Chamber Music Northwest Festival, the Orion Quartet chose a good name for its consistently lauded 30-year-old group, comprised of brother violinists… Read More

The soulful Zorá Quartet deserved a bigger audience

A free Chamber Music Northwest community concert was sparsely attended, but the Zorá Quartet came to play

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Sunday evening’s Zorá Quartet concert at Clackamas Community College was refreshingly short (about an hour) and delightfully performed. Unfortunately, the free concert was deplorably attended. About 50 people heard this high-spirited soulful presentation of Beethoven and Debussy string quartets at Niemeyer Center. The concert was Chamber Music Northwest’s… Read More