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Portland Jazz Festival: A Celebration of ECM

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Gliding down the side of a 10,000-foot mountain in complete silence, I watch the town of Telluride in the center of a ring of tall peaks come into focus. The river bordered by pines and blue spruce bubbles into view at the edge of town and the ground station is under me with a bump and a fast stop. I step out of the gondola trying to get the lay of the land and locate the jazz office.

Telluride in August is a step back in time, with walking and biking the main transportation and big dogs parked lazily in front of little shops. It’s a leap into fantasyland with turquoise and yellow houses girdled in exotic wildflowers surrounded by giant mountain peaks. I always do a lot of sighing when I arrive and it’s only partly due to the altitudinal breathing challenges. I find the jazz office, which is relocated every year to keep things improvisational, and I get the schedule so I know when I’ll hear Regina Carter and Herbie Hancock.

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