The late Commissioner Nick Fish said, “I have always believed that government can be society’s greatest force for good and that together we can do amazing things. As a member of the Council, I have insisted that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, and I have focused on partnership, collaboration and shared success. We can rise to this occasion and embrace inclusivity, sustainability and shared prosperity for all.” 

Nick won many awards during his twelve years on the Portland City Council including three from the arts community. They include the Angel Award from White Bird, the Community Partner Award from Metropolitan Youth Symphony and the McClendon Makarounis Award for Jazz Advocacy from PDX Jazz. He raised funds for and attended the Mount Hood Jazz Festival, PDX Jazz Festival, and Montavilla Jazz Festival in addition to Jazz concerts in Portland parks even though his demanding schedule often only allowed him to attend one or two sets. 

Recognizing that he was a champion for the Jazz community, he was given the title of “Portland’s Jazz Commissioner” by veteran Jazz Radio Host, Marcia Hocker. She was convinced to do so after he spontaneously joined her Monday 6-8pm show during one of KMHD’s membership drives. At that time, they were then located at Mt. Hood Community College. Nick told his wife, Portland State University Professor Patricia Schechter that one of his special Jazz experiences was “spending deejay time with Marcia on her program.” Nick revealed that he fell in love with Jazz when he heard the iconic Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson during a visit to Ireland.”

The United Nations Education and Science Cultural Organization-UNESCO, believes the culture of Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance. It is a vector for freedom of expression, unity and peace while reducing tensions between individuals, groups and communities. Jazz fosters gender equality encouraging artistic innovation and improvisation while empowering young people from marginalized communities.

In alignment with these values, the mission of Montavilla Jazz, a nonprofit 501©3 organization, is to support and strengthen local music culture and enrich our community by showcasing the best of Portland talent.

In recognition of the enormous, enthusiastic contribution from Nick Fish, the Montavilla Jazz Festival will present, for the first time, the Nick Fish Jazz Community Award to Ron Steen in celebration of their tenth anniversary. This will take place on Saturday, September 2, 2023, at the Alberta Rose Theatre.

Submitted by: Marcia K. Hocker, a Montavilla Jazz Board Member and radio host currently on KBOO Community Radio 90.7 FM with Jazz Lives! which airs on alternate Wednesdays from 12:08-2 PM. George E. Hocker, Jr. was the Public Advocate for Commissioner Fish for six and a half years.