Idit Shner and Mhondoro

Saturday, August 20, 2022, 5PM – Portland Metro Arts

Idit Shner and Mhondoro

Saturday, August 20, 2022, 5PM – Portland Metro Arts – Tickets $5-20

Mhonodoro, meaning the lion spirit in Shona, a language of Zimbabwe, formed spontaneously, melding Zimbabwean folk and American jazz traditions.

For a month during the summer of 2019, Idit Shner quietly listened from her side of the backyard fence to her neighbor, John Mambira, jamming with Ratie Dangarembwa and Gilbert Zvamaida. Idit knew them from the music scene in Eugene, Oregon, but she hadn’t played with them before. She gathered the courage to invite herself over. And listen. She’d removed the fence from between them, but she kept herself to the role of audience member. Then, one day as the jam session broke, she asked: “Next time, is it OK if I bring my saxophone over?” They burst out laughing. “Finally! We thought you’d never ask!” Half a year later, and the pandemic brought John and Idit together in a “parent pod” as their children attended online school together, rotating houses. Torrey Newhart, who lived walking distance up the hill, joined the pod. Idit asked Garrett Baxter and Ken Mastrogiovanni to join the backyard sessions and the group whiled away the lockdown hours writing and playing music (and drinking lots of beer).

When the Montavilla Jazz commissioned Idit to compose an original piece for Call + Response (the organization’s own pandemic-influenced project), she knew who she would turn to to get the piece done. They got together in Torrey Newhart’s living room to record the track “Fingerprints”. “The result was artistically thrilling and so earnest,” Idit said. “Since there is no way to have any separation or editing when everyone is in the same space, there is wonderful honesty in recording this way.” That one song, this terrible pandemic, that summer in the backyard before anyone knew what changes were coming… This set something in motion, and the quintet decided they could absolutely not stop at that one composition. 7 more tunes were recorded, culminating in Heat Wave, MHONDORO’s debut album on OA2 Records, melding Zimbabwean traditional music and American jazz with an unmistakable Pacific Northwest vibe thrown in for good measure.

Idit Shner

An active performer of both jazz and classical music, Idit Shner has performed at The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center as well as The Diet Coke Woman in Jazz Festival (New York), the Belleayre Festival (New York), and the New Trier Jazz Festival (Illinois). Currently she performs and records with her quartet in Eugene and Portland, Oregon. Her debut jazz release, Tuesday’s Blues featuring nursery melodies from Jewish liturgy received critical acclaim from JazzTimes, All Music Guide, and Jazz Review. Her latest jazz release, 9 Short Stories, earned a 4-star review in Downbeat Magazine. As a classical saxophonist, she has commissioned and recorded new music and performed solo recitals in the US and Israel. Her third release, Le Merle Noir, featuring music by Messiaen, Bozza, Partos, and Glass, was released on Origin Classics in August 2013. Her recording, FISSURES: 20th Century Music for saxophone and Harp with renowned harpist Yumiko Schlaffer, was played on NPR’s All Things Considered. Her latest classical release is entitled MINERVA.

Lineup: Idit Shner, alto saxophone, bass clarinet; John Mambira, percussion, vocals; Torrey Newhart, piano, vocals; Garrett Baxter, bass; Ken Mastrogiovanni, drums

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Festival 22

Presented by OnPoint Community Credit Union, Mr. Plywood, and The Skanner News

Friday 8/19

Alan Jones Academy of Music Combo
MJF Student Stage at Vino Veritas – 6:00PM
PJCE’s The Heroine’s Journey
Alberta Rose Theatre – 8:00PM
George Colligan and Jazz Millenium
The 1905 – 11:30PM

Saturday 8/20

Tunnel Six: Columbia River Suite
Portland Metro Arts – 2:00PM
Idit Shner and Mhondoro
Portland Metro Arts – 5:00PM
Portland State University Combo
MJF Student Stage at Vino Veritas – 6:00PM
Rich Halley with Matthew Shipp Trio
Portland Metro Arts – 8:00PM
Barra Brown Quintet
The 1905 – 11:30PM

Sunday 8/21

Augustana Jazz Worship
James Powers: Relativity Ensemble
Portland Metro Arts – 2:00PM
Noah Simpson Quartet
Portland Metro Arts – 5:00PM
Metropolitan Youth Symphony Combo
MJF Student Stage at Vino Veritas – 6:00PM
Kerry Politzer Quintet feat. Alex Norris
Portland Metro Arts – 8:00PM


Idit Shner – alto saxophone, bass clarinet
John Mambira – percussion, vocals
Torrey Newhart – piano, vocals
Garrett Baxter – bass
Ken Mastrogiovanni – drums