Spella Caffè Releases Jazzy “MJ BREW” inspired by Darrell Grant’s MJ New Quartet
(Portland, OR) Portland’s Jazz Hero Darrell Grant has teamed up with Portland coffee legend Andrea Spella to produce a special Spella Caffè roast, “MJ BREW,” inspired by Grant’s MJ New Quartet in honor of International Jazz Day, April 30. MJ New’s sophisticated chamber jazz venerates the classic cool of the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ). To celebrate International Jazz Day, each sale of MJ BREW benefits PDX Jazz's The Incredible Journey Of Jazz (IJOJ) education program. Grant will be selling half-pound bags of MJ BREW at his upcoming tour locations paired with his album “Smokin’ Java” for $20, $5 of which will go back to PDX Jazz to support the IJOJ.
MJ New’s tour kicks off Sunday, April 30 at the Portland Art Museum (PAM) for an International Jazz Day celebration co-presented by PDX Jazz that features the IJOJ program, Darrell Grant’s official induction ceremony as Portland’s Jazz Hero, and a one-hour MJ New Quartet program called “The Sound of Identity” inspired by the current “Constructing Identity” exhibition at the PAM. The program is free with museum admission. Additional tour details are below.
Developed in 1999 by Grant and veteran Portland writer and broadcaster Lynn Darroch, IJOJ is a free, 60-minute interactive program designed for students of all ages. It recounts the history of America’s indigenous musical art form. Students learn about jazz from its beginnings in Africa, development in the United States and current role in global culture. PDX Jazz takes IJOJ to more than 1200 students each year.
When Grant first approached jazz-fan, musician, and supporter Spella regarding this project, Grant included a playlist of recordings from MJ New playing original arrangements as well as MJQ classics that showcase the legends’ reputation for genre-defying and seamlessly blending jazz and classical influences. Based on the works “Bach to Brazil,” “Versailles,” “Autumn in New York,” and “A Viennese Affair,” Spella developed a blend of Brazilian, Guatemalan, and secret beans tailored to the music. Some things that colored his approach to this blend included J.S. Bach’s Coffee Cantata, visions of Vienna’s grand coffee houses, Brazil as the classic source of Italians’ espresso beans, and images of Autumn in New York City: “steaming hot little paper cups that have that Greek motif on them and say: ‘We are happy to serve you.’” The result is an enticing mid-range roast.
Read more about the MJ New Quartet at https://www.darrellgrant.com/mj-new-jazz-quartet. Press kit with high-resolution images and bios available http://bit.ly/2nnm88o.
MJ NEW QUARTET TOUR DATES
Sunday, April 30 1:00 PM (Quartet at 3:00 PM)
Portland Art Museum, Whitsell Auditorium
“Sound of Identity” is presented in collaboration with the “Constructing Identity” exhibition and PDX Jazz and will pair music to pieces from the Petrucci collection.
Free with museum admission.
Thursday, May 4 7:00 PM
Artistic Piano Gallery
Presented by Siskiyou Music Project and Britt Music & Arts Festival, Education & Engagement
Sunday, May 7 2:00 PM
Music in the Woods Concert at Mary’s Woods
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Tuesday, May 9 7:00 PM
Lincoln City Cultural Center
Lincoln City, Oregon
Advance $20, $18 members
At the door $22, $20 members
Thursday, May 11 7:30 PM
The Jazz Station
$15, $11 members
Friday, May 12 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 13 7:00 PM
Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center
Presented by Pacific Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
ABOUT MJ NEW QUARTET
Formed by Darrell Grant in 2013, MJ New is a tribute to the Modern Jazz Quartet’s spirit of classicism, elegance, and deeply-curated aesthetic rooted in the 1920's Harlem Renaissance — an aesthetic that for over 40 years resisted the pull of fads, fashion and cultural upheaval until it sparkled like a diamond. MJ New plays both the MJQ’s classic and lesser known compositions as well as original arrangements and compositions that pay homage to the group’s legendary genre-melding. Mesmerizing together, pianist Darrell Grant, bassist Marcus Shelby, vibist Mike Horsfall, and drummer Carlton Jackson are each a virtuoso in their field. More at www.darrellgrant.com.
Since his 1988 appearance in vocalist Betty Carter's trio, pianist and composer Darrell Grant has built an international reputation performing with jazz luminaries Frank Morgan, Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, Brian Blade, and Esperanza Spalding. He has toured as a bandleader and solo artist in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe. He has released seven critically-acclaimed albums as a leader, including Black Art--selected as one of 1994’s top ten jazz CD's by the New York Times.
In 2012, Grant was one of 12 composers awarded a Doris Duke Jazz New Works Grant by Chamber Music America. The resulting work "The Territory” premiered at Chamber Music Northwest and has been performed at The DiMenna Center in New York City, and the Portland Jazz Festival. Grant was inducted into the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2011, he was the first recipient of the Kamelia Massih Outstanding Faculty Prize in the Arts from Portland State University, where he is a Professor of Music and directs the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute. He has been featured on National Public Radio and is a recipient of a 2015 Individual Artist Grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council. More at www.darrellgrant.com.
Bassist Marcus Shelby is an artist in residence with Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and is artistic director of the Marcus Shelby Orchestra. An educator and advocate for sharing the history, present, and future of African American lives and social movements in the United States of America, and a champion of early childhood music education, he was named one of the “Top Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area” by City Flight Magazine in 2005. More at www.marcusshelby.com.
Vibraphonist Mike Horsfall has performed with Chuck Redd, Leroy Vinegar, Rebecca Kilgore, and Gary Hobbs, and has recorded with Pink Martini, the Nu Shooz Orchestra and with Tall Jazz, a trio he co-founded in 1989 which was voted into the Jazz Society of Oregon’s 2010 Hall of Fame. He serves on the music faculty at Willamette University and Mt. Hood Community College. More at www.mikehorsfall.com.
Carlton Jackson, whose drumming was called “intensely musical” by the Los Angeles Times, is a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. His well-documented work with pianists Tom Grant and Dan Siegel, guitarists Dan Balmer and Terry Rob, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, blues singer Curtis Salgado, composer Jon Newton, and others, have solidified his status as an engaging, versatile performer. His work has appeared on feature films, television, and radio commercials, and he actively performs and records in the Pacific Northwest.
ABOUT SPELLA CAFFÈ
Raised above his grandmother's European bakery in Chicago, Andrea Spella first knew espresso as the thick stuff brewed on a stovetop and drunk with pastry after school. This childhood ritual, steeped as it was in old-world tradition, isn't far from the espresso experience Andrea has cultivated over the past ten years in his caffè.
Before the caffè, there was a cart. And before the cart, Andrea dedicated himself to learning all that he could about coffee and fine dining — and he studied with some of the best. He apprenticed with Kevin Knox and Paul Songer of Allegro coffee in Colorado for many years, and considers the time that he spent training with these industry veterans to be paramount to his personal process of figuring out what he loved (and what he wanted to avoid) in the business of roasting and making coffee.
In committing to honoring the time-tested preparation of Italian espresso, Andrea is also constantly seeking and calibrating the best modern techniques available in order to keep this tradition alive. With one foot in the past and one foot in the present, his holistic approach includes taking great care with the product and respecting all of the hands it passes through on its way to the demitasse cup. Although he initially created and built Spella Caffè as a sort of one-man show (sourcing, roasting, distributing, brewing, and serving all on his own), Andrea sees his business — and the team who helps run it — as something much greater than any single person. It must be, in order to carry this rich tradition authentically into the future.
PDX Jazz is a non-profit cultural arts organization dedicated to curating jazz in Portland, Oregon and fostering the growth of musical offerings in the Pacific Northwest. We strive with your contributions and sponsorship to inspire, educate and develop future jazz audiences for generations to come.
The PDX Jazz Festival is a multi-venue series of jazz events presented each February within Portland, Oregon. Nationally and regionally supported as a cultural tourism initiative in celebration of Black History Month, PDX Jazz Festival is dedicated to preserving America’s indigenous art form by presenting internationally recognized jazz masters alongside local jazz musicians. A series of jazz education and outreach programs that extend into Portland’s schools and neighborhoods is at the heart of the annual event.
Kim Morris, Vespertine Works
71three 854 6one62, kim (at) vespertineworks.com