Now that “Fool’s Spring” has sadly ended, I pray this message finds you well, and not in the midst of a weather-induced shopping frenzy. This Valentine’s day/week we’re falling head over heels for an upcoming PDX Jazz Fest show featuring co-headlining producers Omari Jazz and Kiefer, a new full-length from Portland rapper Bocha, and R&B singer Ella Mai's springtime tour.
Can’t miss upcoming events.
Kiefer + Omari Jazz (PDX Jazz Festival)
The Biamp Portland Jazz Festival starts tomorrow and one show that stands out—which is probably why its programmed near the end—is the co-headliner bill of Portland-based composer Omari Jazz and Los Angeles-based pianist Kiefer. Over the last few years, Omari Jazz has established himself as one of the most noteworthy and innovative producers from the region, and his latest beat tape, 2020’s immersive Dream Child, is just the tip of the iceberg. The album's liner notes contain pro-Black messages—”LOVE & SUPPORT BLACK PEOPLE NOW AND FOREVER”—as well as a poetic explanation of the album’s premise: ”Dreams are avatars of the subconscious / Refractions of the waking life / I offer these songs in ritual/ To tender my people's collective dream.” All of that together makes the title Dream Child feel more like words of encouragement than a noun, and revisiting it is a mission perfectly timed for Black History Month. Related news: Omari Jazz co-wrote a sci-fi short film with director Leah R. Brown—also titled Dream Child—that won Best Experimental honors at the 2022 Brooklyn Film Festival. (Star Theater, 13 NW 6th, Sat Feb 25, 9 pm, $25, tickets here, 21+)
New release(s) from a Portland-relevant artist.
Well-known Portland-based emcee Bocha dropped a whole new album, DIY, on February 3. It builds on hits from 2021's Best Buds—like “GG #4”—which he made with Produce Organics label mate Donte Thomas and Los Angeles producer Corey G. Co-produced by both Bocha and Corey G this time around, DIY was recorded in the two artists' homes (hence the name) and centers on themes of self-reliance and resourcefulness. On “Time Gone Come,” Bocha raps with his signature chill, raspy delivery about his career, smoking weed, and then smoking some more, on "Grade A,” before getting right into another sultry smoke session on “Spend a Night.” Fans of chill-hop-jazz-infused should try on “Do It Yourself.” Those seeking the upbeat and dance-worthy, look for “Black Grapes.”
ADDED TO THE QUEUE:
Some upcoming music buzz to put on your radar.
Back in 2017, London-based R&B singer-songwriter Ella Mai came to Portland as one of the opening acts for Oakland artist Kehlani’s tour, and she had the Crystal Ballroom audience falling in love with her deep, hearty vocal tones and moody '90s-informed R&B. Six years later, Ella Mai returns to rock the same venue—this time in the headliner on her very own North American tour. Baby hairs smoothed and laid to the gods, she’ll be singing her global hits like ”Trip,” “Boo’d Up,” and “Shot Clock,” along with tracks like “DFMU,” (Don’t Fuck Me Up), and “Not Another Love Song” from her excellent 2022 album Heart On My Sleeve. She’ll have the whole venue singing “I love the way you do it / Don't stop, don't wanna lose it / I love the way you do it to me” in perfect unison. Lucky for you, there are some seats left for her show, and they’re all VIP. (Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, Sun May 14, 8 pm, $39.50-209, tickets here, all ages)