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Darrell Grant: Jazz With A Cause

Darrell Grant

On Jan. 1, 1997, Darrell Grant did something that very few established New York jazz musicians have done before or since: he moved to Portland, Oregon. “I wanted my music to have more direct impact on people’s lives,” Grant says. “That’s hard to do in New York. I wanted to be in a place where you walk down the street and people know who you are.”

That desire for “impact” through music is typical of an idealism that permeates Grant’s thought and conversation. He had gone straight to New York after earning a Master’s degree from the University of Miami, and had been an up-and-coming pianist on the New York scene for a decade. He had toured with Betty Carter and Tony Williams, recorded with Don Braden and Craig Harris, and made three well-received albums of his own. But when he was offered a position on the faculty of Portland State University, he took it. “Portland seemed like a welcoming place, a place to raise my family,” he says. “And it has given me an incredible number of opportunities to be in the community.”

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