Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Photo by Josh Goleman

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about The Ragtime Destroyers and how they’ve created a wonderful swing dancing scene outdoors in Portland’s Post Office Park. It made me realize that I haven’t given nearly enough love to the jazz genre, so this week I’m shining a light on where else locally you can take in one of the most significant and influential styles of music.

Volumes of books have been written about jazz, not to mention the fact that it was given the Ken Burns documentary treatment two decades ago. I’m not going to try and educate you about jazz, as I’m still a rookie when it comes to getting any kind of real handle on it, but I want to be sure to at least share one key facet: It all started with Black communities in the late 1800s and early 1900s in New Orleans.

While it might not be huge, there is most certainly a jazz scene in Maine, and I’m here to crack open that door a little. I’ve rounded up some ongoing live jazz performances and also threw in a few nationally touring jazz acts that are swinging through the state this fall.

Jazz Sesh
9 p.m. Tuesdays. Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland, by donation. portcityblue.com
Blue is the closest thing we have to an actual jazz club in Portland. With low lighting, great cocktails and food and an intimate space, the joint is the perfect spot to see many styles of music including jazz. Jazz Sesh is a casual weekly gathering where you can come with your instrument and do your thing or just hang out and listen.

Ken Vandermark and Joe Morris with Jamie Saft
8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. Space Gallery, 528 Congress St., Portland, $15 in advance, $18 day of show. space538.org
Here’s a trio of serious heavy hitters when it comes to jazz. Ken Vandermark plays tenor and baritone sax and two types of clarinets. Joe Morris is a guitarist and composer who has written more than 200 original pieces. Jamie Saft is a virtuoso pianist, keyboardist, producer and composer. He’s written film scores for the Oscar-nominated documentary “Murderball” and Sundance award-winning “God Grew Tired Of Us.” This is only scratching the surface of these musicians’ accomplishments, and one can only assume their show at Space will absolutely slay.

Novel Jazz Septet. Photo by Michael Mitchell

Novel Jazz Septet
7 p.m. Sept. 8. St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland, $22 in advance, $26 at the door. stlawrencearts.org
Novel Jazz Septet has been around for more than three decades, and its seven members live all over the state. A few times a year, you can hear them perform at Skidompha Library in Damariscotta, and on Sept. 8, they’ll be taking the stage at St. Lawrence Arts Center. The evening is dedicated to the music of jazz legends Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Between the two of them, they penned about 2,500 compositions including “Mood Indigo,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Novel Jazz will perform the standards along with newly arranged tunes discovered in the Ellington Archives of the Smithsonian Museum of American History as well as the Strayhorn Collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Portland Jazz Orchestra. Photo courtesy of the artist

Portland Jazz Orchestra
8 p.m. Sept. 22. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $7 in advance, $10 day of show. onelongfellowsquare.com
Portland Jazz Orchestra, led by artistic director and trombone player Dr. Chris Oberholtzer is a 19-piece ensemble that is two years shy of hitting their 20-year anniversary mark. Their repertoire comprises instrumental and vocal big band pieces as well as original compositions. You’ll hear tunes from the likes of Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Members of PJO have performed, recorded and toured with the likes of Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Roberta Flack, Barry Manilow and The Temptations among others. The newest member of the band is vocalist Katie Oberholtzer. Portland Jazz Orchestra has had a standing gig at One Longfellow Square since 2006, performing usually once a month. Along with the Sept. 22 show you can catch them there on Oct. 20 and Nov. 17 as well as Dec. 15 for their holiday show.

Dimensions in Jazz
7:30 p.m. shows, various dates through October. Portland Conservatory of Music, 28 Neal St., Portland, $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $15 seniors, $5 students. portlandconservatoryofmusic.org
Portland Conservatory of Music recently announced the lineup of renowned players from Maine and beyond who will be performing in its Dimensions in Jazz Series this fall at its new space in Portland’s West End. What’s more, at 4 p.m. on most show days, there are free jazz workshops open to everyone. On Sept. 9, sax player Anna Webber and her band Simple Trio (John Hollenbeck on drums and pianist Matt Mitchell) will be performing tracks from her latest album “Idiom.”  On Sept. 16, pianist Satoko Fuji and trumpet player Natsuki Tamura will play a show of contemporary Japanese jazz, and then on Sept. 24, it’s the Joe Fonda Trio featuring Fonda on bass, pianist Carlo Morena and drummer Rob Garcia. Head to the conservatory’s website for the rest of the sensational schedule.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
7 p.m. Nov. 1. Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland, $27 to $67. porttix.com
The show is called Pass It On: 60th Anniversary Musical Celebration, and it’s a big one. The members of New Orleans-based jazz band have been making music together since 1961 and were born out of the jazz scene based at the historic Big Easy venue Preservation Hall. With Merrill’s excellent acoustics, this is a can’t-miss show.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.