The mission of Montavilla Jazz is to support and strengthen local music culture and enrich our community by showcasing the best of Portland’s originally composed, progressive jazz.
Who We Are
Montavilla Jazz is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization made up of people who believe that the diverse art form known as jazz, as a tradition and a practice, is relevant and necessary to the lives of all people as a positive force for community-building and education.
Our organization represents a diverse community of jazz artists, student musicians, music lovers, neighbors, business owners, students, teachers, and administrators from within the neighborhood of Montavilla, and from a larger family of jazz supporters and practitioners far and wide, from different backgrounds, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, and sexual orientation. Montavilla Jazz brings together people who love jazz, love Montavilla, or both!
What We Do
- Build an audience for jazz where we live, Montavilla, Portland, Oregon.
- Enhance the lives of Montavilla residents.
- We have created space for jazz to be heard in East Portland, far from the cultural hub that is Downtown Portland.
- We make our festival accessible to all by keeping prices low and providing discounts to low income families through Arts For All, and the Arts Card.
- Honor the jazz tradition by programming local artists at the highest level of their craft who deserve wider recognition of their work.
- Encourage risk taking, experimentation and forward thinking artistry, and the creation of new works.
- Treat artists with dignity and respect and pay a fair wage for performance services.
- Connect artists with new audiences in an intimate setting, one of the best sounding rooms in Portland.
- Partner with area jazz education programs giving music schools and teachers an opportunity to reach new students.
- Cultivate the next generation of Portland jazz artists through jazz education programs and performance opportunities for student musicians at the festival.
- Give residents and businesses an opportunity to make a cultural contribution to the city of Portland.
- Get neighbors involved with the festival and provide opportunities for them to build capacity and new skills.
- Serve as a connection hub for the Portland jazz community of musicians, jazz fans, educators, and supporters, and for the organizations that make up the Portland jazz ecosystem.
- Serve as a connection hub to community organizations that seek to expand their reach and impact.
Why We Do It
- Because we are dedicated to ensuring the viability of the jazz art form and its preservation for future generations.
- Because there is a need to organize for the benefit of local musicians who are not getting the representation or support that they need to make sustainable careers as jazz artists in Portland.
- Because a lack of funding statewide has caused cuts to music education in our neighborhood schools.
- Because we think the core principles of jazz including social justice, activism, individualism, and collaboration are crucial to a thriving community and can be applied locally to foster unity.
- Because art is integral to a community’s well being, and East Portland has many residents don’t have access to affordable arts experiences and are therefore underserved.
- Because we see an opportunity to make our neighborhood a better place through the presenting of jazz.
- Because we want a healthy, happy, diverse, inclusive, and equitable community for all!
- Because working together with local businesses and community organizations makes our community stronger and more connected. Our supporters feel ownership of our event and the satisfaction of knowing that we are working together to make an impact.
- Because our volunteers make Montavilla Jazz Fest an event that is for the community and by the community.
Where We Fit in the Ecology
- We are one of the only arts and culture organizations based in Montavilla.
- “In all except rare cases, these artists don’t have a festival to play. They are too small for the PDX Jazz Festival, too “out” for the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, and too “in” for the Creative Music Guild’s summer festival, the Improvisation Summit of Portland.” – Doug Detrick, ED Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble
- Organizations such as IRCO and APANO serve refugee and multicultural communities respectively, Montavilla Jazz Festival is conduit for connecting diverse communities through jazz.
Board of Directors
Neil Mattson—Executive Director
Ryan Meagher—Programming Director
Aaron Hayman—Art Director
Kim Harrison—At Large Director
Hobie Bender—Bipartisan Cafe
Stephen E. Blackman—Brownstein Rask
Deborah DeMoss Smith—KMHD
Todd Dennis—East Glisan Pizza Lounge
Pete Emerson—Bipartisan Cafe
Darrell Grant—Portland State University
Fritz Hirsch—MJF founder
Don Lucoff—DL Music Media
Pancho Savery—Reed College
Mary-Sue Tobin—jazz artist-in-residence
Jeffrey Chilton—MTMS Jazz Band
Nicole McCabe—MTMS Jazz Band
Rick Gordon—sound engineer
David Kays—main stage manager
George Manley—front of house manager
Ryuu Joy—student stage manager
Deborah DeMoss Smith
S. Renee Mitchell