First Annual Jazz Forward Competition Set to Premier at 2015 Portland Jazz Festival



First Annual Jazz Forward Competition
Set to Premier at 2015 Portland Jazz Festival


Portland State University and PDX Jazz Partner on a
New Education Initiative in Support of Black History Month


Winners Receive Opportunity
to Perform at Festival Headline Concerts


Portland State University, Oregons largest university located in downtown Portland, will host the first annual Jazz Forward Competition on February 20 and 21, 2015 during the 12th Annual Portland Jazz Festival.


Students will compete in the following five categories: Vocal Soloist, Vocal Ensemble, Jazz Combo, Instrumental Soloist, and Big Band. For more information on entry requirements, registration deadlines, application fees, cash prizes and partner provisions go to


The Jazz Forward Competition will now join prestigious regional student jazz competitions in the western United States including: The Monterey NextGen Festival; Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho; Reno Jazz Festival; and Seattle Jazz Experience at Cornish College of the Arts.


PSU features an urban campus located on the historic Park Blocks, a short walk from the Portland Jazz Festivals main stages of the Newmark and Winningstad Theatres, and the Art Bar Atrium inside the P5 complex. This allows for greater accessibility to Festival activities, and the hospitality sector, supported by our cultural tourism partner hotels and restaurants, where live free music is also performed. 


Designed and curated by Origin Records recording artist and PSU Jazz Faculty member Jeff Baker, a critically acclaimed performer and award winning educator educator in the Northwest region, Jazz Forward is an outgrowth of the four year PSU Student Stage, organized by the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute @ PSU, and the more recent Presidents Day Student Celebration at Jimmy Maks, both of which took place during the annual Festival.


“The Pacific Northwest has a long, rich history in the jazz idiom and especially in jazz education, states Baker. We are excited to join other esteemed institutions and jazz presenting organizations who have traditionally offered a compelling competition component to their festival program mix. Our ongoing history with PDX Jazz during the Festival made for a natural fit. It will certainly resonate with the students as they will be exposed to world class performers. Baker concludes, By conceiving Jazz Forward during the annual Portland Jazz Festival, the competition will hopefully raise the awareness of PSUs Jazz Studies program and inspire these outstanding young jazz musicians to achieve new artistic heights.


Its a great opportunity to foundationally build and grow the Festival with a like-minded partner, states PDX Jazz Managing Director, Don Lucoff. Our community has watched with pride how PSU educators and leaders, Bryan Johanson, Charlie Gray, Darrell Grant, and George Colligan have served the music as advocates and role models for a wide array of impressive students and alumni including: Esperanza Spalding, Farnell Newton, Andrew Oliver, Mel Brown, Gordon Lee, and Nicole Glover among others. This competition is yet another collective pathway that sustains the music and leads to a greater degree of developing the next generation of jazz audience. This has been part of our mission since the first festival in 2004.


The Jazz Forward Competition is funded in part by Wieden + Kennedy.



For more information, please contact:


Jeff Baker, Director

Jazz Forward Competition




Don Lucoff, Managing Director

PDX Jazz & Portland Jazz Festival




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