Second Sunday: Celebrating Jazz Town

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Second Sunday: Celebrating Jazz Town
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Oregon Historical Society says
Celebrating Jazz Town: An Oregon Experience Preview
Presented by author Lynn Darroch and OPB producer Eric Cain
Free and open to the public

World War II brought a great wave of workers and their families from across the country to work in the shipyards of Portland, and the city’s African American population grew from 2,000 to about 22,000. Many of the newcomers came with a shared passion for rhythm-and-blues and contemporary, danceable jazz, but they had come to a very segregated city that offered few venues for black people to perform or to listen to music. In the latest episode of Oregon Experience, explore a vibrant but short-lived period of Portland history: the post-WWII eruption of music and nightlife in the North/Northeast part of town. This was a colorful and significant chapter in the city’s cultural narrative, but one that is largely unknown even to those who now live in the heart of the music scene on North Williams Avenue. Celebrating its tenth season, Oregon Experience is an exciting history series on OPB-TV that brings to life stories that help us understand this place where we live and that reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians. Co-produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Historical Society, the series draws upon the Society’s skilled researchers and extensive photography and moving-image archives.

Lynn Darroch, author Rhythm in the Rain: Jazz in the Pacific Northwest, will describe the jazz scene in Portland during the 1940s and 1950s, including connections to Seattle’s jazz history. His talk will include the social, economic, and geographical forces that have shaped jazz in the region, the artists who have chosen to practice their craft here, distant from centers of power and influence; together, they have created a cooperative scene where musicianship and independence are prized and young players are nurtured. It all began on Portland's Williams Avenue and Seattle's Jackson Street in the 1940s. Lynn Darroch is a jazz journalist, spoken word artist, and radio DJ who has covered jazz and other music in the region for local and national publications since 1979. Eric Cain, producer of the forthcoming “Jazz Town” episode, will share a few clips from the show and offer some behind-the-scenes stories about how the program is made, including the commissioning of new music from Darrell Grant.

The Oregon Historical Society is offering special invitations to community members who have personal or family memories of the music and community that flourished in the city’s jazz scene during the mid-twentieth century, and we urge them to come ready to share stories with the audience.
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By: Oregon Historical Society

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