Gresham, Oregon - After months of uncertainty, there will be a Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. Rogue Ales presents the 2002 Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, Saturday and Sunday, August 3 & 4 with gates opening each day at 2 p.m. The sounds of straight-ahead jazz will drift through historic downtown Gresham from the 17.5 acre Gresham Main City Park at the intersection of Main and Powell. Jazz fans can rejoice in the continuation of a jazz favorite.
"The intimacy of this new venue lends itself to duos and small ensembles," says artistic director Bill Royston. Featured artists will include trumpeter Rick Braun, first time collaboration of guitarist Russell Malone & pianist Benny Green, duo of vocalist Jenna Mammina & Portland's pianist Darrell Grant, and vocalist Melissa Walker. Gonzalo Rubalcaba, three-time Grammy award winner and Cuban piano legend will perform Saturday afternoon. Pianist and vocalist Joe McBride and saxophonist Wayne DeLano will perform an acoustic set Sunday afternoon. Headlining Sunday night’s finale, vocalist extraordinaire Kevin Mahogany sings Motown. The Beacock All-Stars, a select all-star ensemble of the best student musicians in the Pacific Northwest, will open the festival each afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Other artists will be announced in the near future. All performances will be on the Oregonian A&E stage.
Headlining Saturday’s performances will be Rick Braun ‘Unplugged,’ an acoustic straight-ahead jazz premiere by the contemporary, Smooth Jazz trumpet star. Braun started sitting-in last winter at Monday jam sessions in Los Angeles. A quintet led by Braun has evolved over the past six months, and is now ready for its premiere public performance.
This year's modest festival allows for reduced ticket prices, $15 single-day general admission, or a 2-day ticket at $25, purchased in advance. Single tickets will be sold day-of-show for $20. All seating is general admission, lawn seating. Parking will be available throughout downtown Gresham. There will also be a shuttle opportunity to the Gresham Main City Park (to be announced). Festival goers may consider bicycling or walking to the event. The Gresham central MAX transit station is four blocks from the park. Plus, the Springwater Corridor trail passes right by the festival entrance.
For twenty years, the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz Foundation has administered the nationally recognized Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, but recently ceased operations because of mounting debts and declining sponsorship. Earlier hopes of securing funding to save the Festival, as it had existed, faltered by April.
In recent weeks, a new, Gresham-based non-profit corporation, the Gresham/Mt. Hood Jazz Association, has been formed to keep the Festival alive in east Multnomah County. This new organization has entered into a one-year licensing agreement of the name "Mt. Hood Jazz Festival." The Association's mission is to enhance the image of, to attract visitors to, and to encourage and bring arts and culture to the greater Gresham Area. The Association's goal is to create the best festival possible on a limited budget.
Association members include Sue O'Halloran, board president; Kathy Everett, vice president; Karen Caton, secretary; Frank Hodapp, treasurer; Doug Sweet, board member; and Don Robertson, ex officio board member. Sue O'Halloran says she sees a new era for the jazz festival. Now with the new format and venue, the festival will be more closely connected to downtown Gresham.
The City of Gresham and Gresham/Mt. Hood Jazz Association have been working with Portland General Electric (PGE) who contributed upgraded electrical service and installation of transformers for the Main City Park.
With a new venue and seed money, Sue O' Halloran contacted Bill Royston of the Royston Company, previous Artistic Director of the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. One look at the Gresham Main City Park was all it took for Royston to envision a modest jazz festival for 2002 and with hope for future festivals. Royston, whose management contract with the Foundation expired January 1, was retained for the summer with the task of producing an event in seven weeks.
Rogue Ales has agreed to become the new title sponsor. One of the leading microbreweries internationally, Newport-based Rogue Ales has been involved as a festival sponsor for the past two years, but has really stepped forward with increased financial support and expanded marketing of "Jazz Guy Ale" at their Portland Public House, NW 14th and Flanders in Portland, and other retail locations.
Additional sponsors supporting these last-minute efforts to save the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival include American Airlines, Beacock Music, Borders Books & Music, Fidelity National Title Company of Oregon, The Jazz Society of Oregon, KMHD-FM/Jazz 89.1, Meier & Frank, Merchants Bank, Nature’s, Olive Garden, Pepsi, Perion Water, POVA, Smart Choice Wireless, and Terra Access.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase inside the festival gates. There will be no outside food or drink allowed inside the gates.
Tickets are available at all Safeway/Fastixx ticket centers. For advance tickets, please call 1-800-992-TIXX/503-224-8499 or log on to the Fastixx website at http://www.fastixx.com. Tickets are also available at the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce located at 703 NE Hood, Gresham. For further (non-ticketing information), visit our website at http://www.mthoodjazzfestival.org , please call 503-665-3827, Sarah Smith or contact the Gresham Downtown Development Association/Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, P.O. Box 2043, Gresham, OR 97030.