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Twenty-Sixth Annual
July 16th 2006

In a natural setting, beneath the St. Johns bridge, the yearly jazz and blues celebration is happening, a community affair in ideal weather. Hotness in the low eighties, with a light flirtatious breeze to caress the body and levitate the hair. Even the trees sway because of the puffs of air that comb their leaves.

Grilled onions waft, beer and wine guzzled on the fringes, folding chairs and blankets dot the landscape like indicators of land ownership. Shaded spots become elusive, suntans are inevitable.

The air stretched taut with excitement, as the performers are introduced and make their way to the stage, to an infectious applause. One person under the influence wobbled in his excitement before falling brusquely on his butt.

A trio composed of Ron Steen on drums, Phil Baker on bass and Randy Porter tickling the ivories, caused an impatient, expectant multitude to settle down, sit up straight, wipe the excess beverage from their lips, and chase gleeful toddlers.

Finally the quintessential Kevin Mahogany appears. He begins to sing a slow ballad in that warm seductive voice of his, reminiscent of the late Barry White. One lady a few feet from me, her right hand held to her chest, kept repeating "Oh my!"

After two love songs, the tempo was picked up and the scatting began. A feeling of grace and freedom came from the musicians, their solidarity apparent as they seemed to feed off each other's energy. The tempo changed frequently, drum beating more creative, the bass plucking was more pronounced, the piano at times heard to be more eloquent, melodic and damn beautiful.

The sun was sinking in the western sky. Chairs were folded, blankets rolled, children and dogs in tow, the exodus begins to the waiting vehicles parked along the lane. Another successful festival put to bed.



Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon